On Nov. 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the massive $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (the “Infrastructure Law”). Touted as the single largest investment in American infrastructure in over a generation, the Infrastructure Law’s impact will be felt in nearly every big city and rural town in the country. Over the next decade, the 380 programs the Infrastructure Law funds—132 of them completely new—will funnel investment into everything from high-speed internet to high-speed trains, as well as traditional hard infrastructure such as roads, bridges and waterways. On Jan. 31, 2022, the Biden Administration released a Guidebook to explain and navigate this plethora of programs, as well as to highlight the impact they will have in the years to come.
INFRASTRUCTURE LAW: IMPACT ON TRANSPORTATION
It’s no surprise that the biggest investment area of the Infrastructure Law is what first comes to mind when we think of “infrastructure.” The law will finance hundreds of billions of dollars in programs to rehabilitate and rebuild thousands of bridges, tens of thousands of miles of roads and increase the capacity and resilience of American airports, seaports and waterways. In addition, the Infrastructure Law will help fund massive and badly needed rail projects in the Northeast Corridor, such as Amtrak’s Gateway Program—which aims to replace aging infrastructure such as the century-old North River Tunnels that bottleneck high-speed rail capacity in the region. Freight rail will also benefit from additional funding to increase safety, efficiency and reliability—leading to a more dependable supply chain.
One of the frequently touted highlights of the new law is its focus on Electric Vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing. The law creates grants to fund the construction and installation of a nationwide EV charging network, as well as investment in electric buses, ferries and other public transportation. Already, initiatives such as the Lordstown Smart Logistics Hub in Ohio is poised to benefit from the Infrastructure law’s grant programs and bring major transformation to Eastern Ohio Appalachia.
CLIMATE, ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
While the Democrat’s Build Back Better bill—the intended partner of the Infrastructure Law—has been stalled in Congress, along with its many environmental provisions, the Infrastructure Law itself will have a wide-reaching environmental impact on the way we generate and consume electricity.
The law takes a multi-step approach to protect current – and create more – zero-emission sources of power, upgrade thousands of miles of transmission infrastructure and invest in more efficient businesses and homes. The law dedicates funding to the nation’s current zero-emission power stations, such as nuclear and hydropower, and invests in new sources of clean energy—both by scaling up current technology and investigating future sources of clean energy.
With powerful storms becoming more commonplace from New England to Texas, the law funds the upgrade of the nation’s power transmission infrastructure—hardening it against not just the weather, but also bad actors.
The Infrastructure Law is not limited only to generation and transmission of power, it also impacts our consumption of clean energy. The law devotes billions for the weatherization and insulation of homes, buildings and communities across the country—not only reducing the strain on our power grid but also reducing utility bills.
HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND INTERNET
While many of the programs mentioned above are primarily dedicated to upgrading or improving existing infrastructure, no other provision of the Infrastructure Law will be as transformational—especially in rural areas of the country—as the funding dedicated to expanding high-speed broadband internet.
For the past two years and more, millions of Americans have been forced to work, learn and engage with each other remotely. Formerly little-known brands such as Zoom have become household names, and even grandma and grandpa have sprung for an iPad to see the grandkids. However, for Americans who lack high-speed internet, none of those things are possible. Unable to work remotely, many have lost their jobs or have been forced to work in person during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to some studies, as many as 15% of American households with school-age children—rural and inner-city alike—could not learn remotely and consequently have fallen behind their peers.
The Infrastructure Law dedicates $65 billion to eradicating these inequities by expanding broadband infrastructure throughout the country, especially in rural areas that have been long overlooked or overcharged by big internet providers. Additionally, the law seeks to lower the costs of broadband to further close the digital divide. After all, what good is a shiny and new fiber optic outlet if you can’t afford the service?
OTHER NICHE PROGRAMS IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE BILL
In addition to this historic investment in roads, bridges, airports, seaports, waterways, rail, power generation and transmission, and high-speed internet, the Infrastructure Law boasts many other niche programs.
The Infrastructure Law will assist:
- The Forest Service in providing increased capacity to more sustainable recreation areas in our precious National Forests and Parks;
- The NOAA in improving and protecting the Nation’s fisheries;
- The Department of Health and Human Services in providing energy assistance to those who cannot afford to heat or cool their home; and
- The Department of Transportation in researching new safety technologies for the cars, trains, planes and buses that we all use to travel.
The Infrastructure Law has the potential to not only change our everyday experience with the infrastructure we all depend on, but also to create new opportunities for individuals and businesses. To learn more about how you or your business may benefit from the Infrastructure Law’s funding, grants and other programs, contact Jon Pinney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-736-7260.