The Scramble Is On For Mayors, Governors To Get Their Piece Of Infrastructure Spending Pie
The signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by President Joe Biden on Monday accentuates a scramble among U.S. governors and mayors — one that has already gotten underway — for a piece of the pie.
Though the headline number is $1.2 trillion, the bill actually will provide about $550B in new spending over the next decade, since some of the expenditures in the measure were already planned by the federal government. The bill passed with the support of most congressional Democrats, but also 13 House Republicans and 19 Republican senators.
Much funding is up for grabs. The bill provides $110B for road and bridgework, $65B for electric grid improvements and a similar amount for broadband internet expansion, which stands to benefit the data center industry. It also includes $66B for Amtrak expansion and billions more for upgrading water systems, mass transit, airports and seaports, and other projects.
"We have a very compelling case to be made for some of these funds," Mobile, Alabama, Mayor Sandy Stimpson told USA Today, citing a new bridge across the Mobile River Delta as an important project for his city. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said she hopes the bill will mean major transit expansion in her city, among other projects.
“We need to invest in modern infrastructure and address long-neglected needs," Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval Carter Jr. told WTTW.
His agency has been angling for infrastructure money since well before the bill passed.
The White House has already announced an action plan aimed at upgrading U.S. ports and inland waterways, which have proven to be supply chain chokepoints this year. Altogether, the bill provides $17B for improvements at ports and waterways.
Though the bill is the largest infrastructure package in at least a decade, experts say that it isn't enough to overcome years of deferred maintenance of U.S. infrastructure.
“We’ve got to be sober here about what our infrastructure gap is ... that this is not going to solve our infrastructure problems across the nation,” David Van Slyke, dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, told AP.
On Sunday, the White House announced that former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will coordinate infrastructure spending as a senior adviser to the president. The administration cited his efforts as mayor from 2010 to 2018 to fast-track more than 100 infrastructure projects.