What Rural America Can Expect from the Infrastructure Plan

The U.S. Senate recently passed the more than 2,700-page Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bill provides $548 billion in new spending. When combined with existing baseline infrastructure spending, total funding for infrastructure will be approximately $944 billion over five years and $1.2 trillion over eight years.

The Act represents a highlight reel of the Senate’s bipartisan work. It includes several bills that have already won bipartisan action in the Senate, including a must-pass highway bill to extend programs set to expire this fall.

Farm Progress took a deep dive into the final bipartisan infrastructure deal. In this Shortliner, we include excerpts.

Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soybean Transportation Coalition, says the provisions, especially the $110 billion in funding for roads and bridges and the $17 billion for ports and waterways, will “clearly enhance the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture.”

To illustrate how these infrastructure investments can have tangible impact at the local level, the replacement of a single bridge that had significant load restrictions can easily save local residents $70,000 to $80,000 annually due to no longer incurring detours, explains Steenhoek.

If a weight-restricted bridge calls for a five-mile detour, and that detour affects 25 trucks a day, it will generate an additional 45,625 miles of detours each year.

“If it costs $1.50-$1.80 per mile to operate the semi, the annual cost of the detour for the single weight-restricted bridge is approximately $70,000-$80,000,” says Steenhoek. “These are costs that will be inserted into food delivery and other industries.”

As it relates to transportation, the bill includes $284 billion, or 52 percent, of new spending. Specifically, it allocates:

  • Roads, bridges, and major projects: $110 billion (includes $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation)
  • Passenger and freight rail: $66 billion
  • Public transit: $39 billion
  • Airports: $25 billion
  • Ports and waterways: $17 billion
  • Safety: $11 billion
  • Electric vehicle infrastructure: $7.5 billion
  • Electric/zero emission buses: $5 billion
  • Electric/zero emission ferries: $2.5 billion
  • Reconnecting communities: $1 billion

Other categories make up the remaining 48 percent of new spending, or $256 billion. This includes the follow spending breakdown:

  • Electric and power infrastructure: $65 billion
  • High-speed internet: $65 billion
  • Clean drinking water: $55 billion
  • Resilience and western water infrastructure: $50 billion
  • Environmental remediation: $21 billion

The measure’s $65 billion investment in broadband intends to provide every American access to reliable highspeed internet. This historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment is comparable to the federal government’s historic effort nearly a century ago to provide electricity to every American.

The IIJA also would allocate $1 billion over five years to modernize and improve rural grid resilience. Those funds would be authorized to upgrade transmission lines, improve energy efficiency, develop microgrids and reduce emissions.

The House has already passed its own version of an infrastructure bill—the INVEST In America Act, which the Senate replaced with this plan. The House could accept the Senate’s version, but it’s unlikely without major changes involving additional spending.

Source: Farm Progress