Our View: Historic Infrastructure Bill Will Strengthen Communities and Improve Lives


The political drama surrounding the infrastructure bill has eclipsed its substance. But make no mistake – the more than $ 1,000 billion package passed by Congress last week is monumental.

The infrastructure bill, championed by President Joe Biden and backed by nearly all Democrats and some Republicans, will be felt in every corner of the country. It comes after decades in which roads, bridges and other public infrastructure have deteriorated and set the stage for the future.

He might not have everything people wanted, or even everything he needed. But the investment represented by the infrastructure bill should not be ruled out.

The bill, passed by the House on Friday night, includes over $ 1,000 billion in spending. To put it in context, this is more than double what was allocated under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which created the interstate highway system, adjusted for today’s dollars.

There is $ 110 billion for roads and bridges, with the $ 40 billion for bridges being the largest investment since the construction of the road network.

There is $ 39 billion to expand and improve public transit, aimed in part at a nationwide bus maintenance backlog measuring in the tens of thousands. There is an additional $ 66 billion for Amtrak, the largest federal investment in rail service since its inception 50 years ago.

There are billions more for electric vehicle charging stations, airports, high-speed internet, upgrading airports, and upgrading water and sanitation systems – including mitigation lead pipes and PFAS, or “forever” chemicals, that have poisoned residents and destroyed property values ​​all over the world. country, including here in Maine.

Maine itself expects to get $ 2.37 billion over five years in direct funding from the bill, including $ 390 million for drinking water. The state is providing $ 1.3 billion for highways alone, plus $ 225 million for bridges and $ 74 million for airports.

Anyone who has had to avoid potholes and degraded shoulders on a trip to Maine knows that money is needed, not only for residents and tourists to get around, but also for trade. and trade.

Preserving drinking water in Maine will also require an estimated $ 59 million per year over the next two decades as sewage systems need to be repaired and replaced.

And while communities across Maine have tried to develop the high-speed internet networks that are a necessity for life these days, they haven’t had the funding they need – until now.

The infrastructure bill will send Maine at least $ 100 million for broadband expansion, as well as the Democrats’ $ 149 million bailout – the most Maine has ever had to build the networks that communities desperately need to compete for businesses and residents.

If the money spent seems high, it is only because the United States has not invested in infrastructure in decades, leaving it degraded, let alone a long way back.

The infrastructure bill makes up for a lot of wasted time and provides enough funds for communities to build the things they need for a healthy future, if well spent: a strong transportation system that is pedestrian-friendly and other non-road vehicles. , public transportation that truly serves the public, affordable high-speed Internet access wherever it is needed, and sewage systems that keep our waterways healthy and clean.

The infrastructure bill uses taxpayers’ money to establish the conditions for prosperity. It will tangibly improve lives.

Whatever it took to get the infrastructure bill passed is nothing short of historic.

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