The heavily bipartisan move will mean residents of Minnesota and across the country will soon see a transformative injection of funds to repair roads, bridges, highways, water systems, railroads, ports and cities. electrical networks. It is also providing $ 65 billion to provide quality, affordable broadband networks to communities – especially those in rural America – that have for too long struggled to thrive without modern high-speed internet.
In Minnesota, it will jumpstart the economy and help complete hundreds of local projects in communities of all sizes and across the state. The resulting improvements will create and support well-paying jobs across the country and strengthen our country’s efforts to tackle climate change.
Minnesota urgently needs infrastructure investment
The need to invest in infrastructure is clear. For decades, Minnesota has suffered from a lack of funding that has hampered efforts to modernize our systems, made travel less efficient, and hampered economic growth. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota a grade of C on its infrastructure scorecard.
Earlier this year, a senior state transportation official told the Minnesota Legislature that there were more than 800 bridges to be repaired or replaced over the next decade that were not part of the plan. Minnesota Ten-Year Funding. He also said that without additional funding, Minnesota would find itself in “unprecedented territory” in the years to come for the number of poor highways.
Fortunately, the Senate infrastructure bill addresses these needs by sending Minnesota $ 4.5 billion for freeway upgrades, $ 302 million for bridge replacement and repair, $ 856 million dollars for our transit systems and at least $ 100 million for broadband across the state.
This means residents of Northwestern Minnesota could see the completion of a necessary bridge connecting East Grand Forks and Grand Forks. It could also bring relief to the small town of Oslo, which has little local tax base to tackle the problems of perennial flooding that overwhelms its roads and literally turns it into an island. Now Minnesota will have the resources to undertake projects like these statewide.
Minnesota to receive $ 100 million to improve broadband
When I first came to the Senate, one of my main priorities was to increase access to broadband. It’s not only nice to have, it’s a 21st A century’s need for working communities to attract families and businesses, and to create jobs and economic development. Broadband connects students to top-notch education and enables healthcare institutions to provide much-needed and often life-saving services, such as telehealth. The current pandemic has shown us how important quality broadband is for people working from home and for students who learn remotely.
Sadly, I’ve heard too many stories of parents in Minnesota being forced into a fast food parking lot to access a connection good enough for their kids to do their homework. And even the best-run businesses struggle to compete – and connect with customers – without quality broadband.
The infrastructure bill changes that. Minnesota will receive a minimum of $ 100 million, which will significantly increase our state’s efforts to connect its 157,000 homes currently without service. It also ensures that new broadband services are affordable and that any new system provides quality connections, so that users – especially those in rural areas – are not stuck with substandard or second-class service. .
Bill on infrastructure to complete the next budget “Build back better”
While the infrastructure bill is historic, we still have work to do to make the necessary investments that give our nation the tools to succeed, lower taxes and lower costs for working families. Shortly after the passage of the Infrastructure Bill, the Senate also approved the outline of our “Build Back Better” budget. Under this budget deal, Congress will work this fall on detailed efforts to dramatically improve our nation’s housing, education, child care and clean energy infrastructure, as well as reduce drug costs. on prescription.
One of my top priorities will be to continue my efforts to move our country towards a clean energy future by promulgating a clean electricity standard that over time will achieve net zero emissions in our electricity sector. It will be at the heart of our efforts to fight climate change, put the United States at the forefront of technological innovation, and create millions of well-paying jobs.
With the passage of the Infrastructure Bill, we are no longer just talking about infrastructure, we are actually achieving results that will improve the lives of millions of Minnesotans, create a generation of jobs and economic growth, and position our countries to succeed in the 21st Century.
Senator Tina Smith represents Minnesota in the United States Senate
This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Forum editorial board or the property of the Forum.