On November 15 President Biden signed into law the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework legislation. It is now called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Not a particularly catchy title, but it is a major breakthrough as it is one of the largest infrastructure investment acts enacted since the New Deal nearly a century ago. While the largest portion of funds are directed toward transportation related projects it includes much more. For example, access to broadband for rural and tribal areas, a major element, is treated similarly to access to electricity under the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) created during the presidency of FDR.
The Act directs roughly $1.2 trillion of investments to traditional and non-traditional infrastructure projects. The former category includes transportation-related items such as railroads carrying passengers and freight, ports, airports, highways, bridges, and public transit. It also includes innovative items like electric vehicle charging stations. Other much-needed investment is aimed at replacing the nation’s lead pipes and improving water quality. The more non-traditional group of investments include broadband and high-speed internet for rural areas; addressing climate change by reducing emissions, pollution and our carbon footprint; improving the resilience and efficiency of our electric grid; mitigating wildfire risks; and promoting cybersecurity.
The effect of the Act for Arizona is tremendous and is being treated as such by Governor Ducey. It provides for allocations to the state which in turn will award grants for implementation over a five-year period to businesses and non-profits. The grant writing activity has already begun. Broadly speaking, according to one analysis by Victoria Steele, Arizona State Senator from LD 9, the allocation to Arizona breaks down roughly like this:
- $5 billion for roads and highway maintenance and development;
- $884 million for public transportation and passenger rail service;
- $547 million for land ports of entry on the southern border;
- $290 million for public and private safe drinking water infrastructure and wastewater management;
- $348 million for modernizing our airports and freight rail;
- $225 million for bridge replacement and repair;
- $100 million for broadband expansion and internet access into rural and tribal communities;
- $76 million for a network of electric vehicle charging stations;
- $38 million for wildfire mitigation; and
- $17 million for cybersecurity.