On November 5, the US House of Representatives approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Ten days later, on November 15, President Joe Biden signed the bill into law.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) is considered a “once-in-a-generation” spending measure (US lawmakers, 2021) and the single most significant federal investment in American history (Macias, 2021).
Half of the $1 trillion bill – US$550, will go to new federal investments for the nation’s bridges, airports, waterways, public transit, and more for over five years.
The American Public Works Association released a statement applauding the decision of both the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the bill, saying it is “a historic step towards improving American citizen’s quality of life.”
US $1 trillion bill funding distribution
Forbes’ article “Everything In The $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill: New Roads, Electric School Buses, Great Lakes Restoration and More” breaks down what is in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Roads and bridges – $110 billion to improve roads, bridges, and major transportation programs. Some 20% or 173,000 miles of the nations’ highways and major roads and 45,00 bridges are in poor condition (Lobosco, Luhby, 2021).
Public transit – $39 billion to modernize public transit to improve access to people with disabilities and the elderly, repair more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 railcars, and thousands of miles of train tracks.
Amtrak – $66 billion to improve America’s high-speed rail network.
Broadband internet – $65 billion to expand high-speed internet and subsidize access for eligible households.
Electric grid – $65 billion will upgrade the nation’s electricity grid and add new environmentally friendly transmission lines.
Electric cars, buses, and ferries – $7.5 billion for a network of EV chargers along highway corridors, $5 for zero-emission buses, $2.5 billion for ferries.
Clean drinking water – $55 billion to replace all the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.
Great rivers and lakes – $48 billion for water infrastructure improvement and $1 billion to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to lean toxic and pollution around the Great Lakes region.
Airports – $25 billion to modernize America’s airports.
Road Safety – $11 billion to go into transportation safety programs to reduce crashes and fatalities, particularly among cyclists and pedestrians.
Experts say this investment is a long-overdue infrastructure improvement that has been in the bottleneck in the past. Part of the IIJA’s significance is that it will free up current resources by guaranteeing future funds.
Now that America has the IIJA, what happens next?
Now that the bill is enacted into law, will lead to a monumental shift and changes in all levels of governments and across federal agencies, owing to its enormity which is significantly greater than any typical federal infrastructure bill.
“Federal agencies like the Department of Transportation and Energy have the enormous responsibility to implement the law, standing-up new programs and finding safe ways to get money out the door quickly. State and local officials carry an even greater burden. As owners and operators of most infrastructure, they must design and build new assets, hire more workers, and even mobilize their financial resources” (Adie, George, Kane, & Bourne, 2021).
Asset management and life cycle analysis can help manage infrastructure windfall
As state and localities begin to identify and execute needed infrastructure projects, it is critical that these investments are not just a two-year fix but will continue optimally function for its service life, resilient and sustainable for generations to come.
By applying strategic infrastructure asset management, officials can develop strategies to guide infrastructure investments and optimize spending.
The practice of strategic infrastructure asset management will help ensure that infrastructure investments are not wasted, fill out the investment gaps in the past, and infrastructure continues to provide an acceptable level of services throughout its life in the most cost-effective manner.
Yu (2021) highlights the importance of the application of lifecycle analysis when making infrastructure projects decisions.
It is essential for engineers, designers, and policymakers to understand the total economic and environmental costs of infrastructure projects during their lifecycle, especially when choosing the type of materials and infrastructure design (Yu, 2021).
The tendency to focus on cost minimizing cost and not enough attention to the use phase could lead to higher costs both environmentally and economically for services users and taxpayers in the long run.
US lawmakers approve $1tn in infrastructure spending. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-59180745
Macias, A. (2021, November 9). Biden rolls out multibillion-dollar plan to upgrade aging US ports after passage of infrastructure bill. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2021/11/09/supply-chain-fix-biden-administration-to-spend-more-than-4-billion-on-aging-us-ports.html
Ponciano, J. (2021, November 5). Everything In The $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill: New Roads, Electric School Buses, Great Lakes Restoration And More. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathanponciano/2021/11/05/everything-in-the-1-trillion-infrastructure-bill-new-roads-electric-school-buses-great-lakes-restoration-and-more/?sh=6a9f10a75a1a
Lobosco, K. & Luhby, T. (2021, November 6). Here’s what in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. CNN. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/28/politics/infrastructure-bill-explained/index.html
American Public Works Association. (2021, November 5). Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Wins House Approval, Public Works Association’s Applause [PDF File]. Retrieved from https://www.apwa.net/Library/IIJA_House_APPROVAL-FINAL.pdf
Adie T., George C., Kane, J.W., & Bourne A. (2021, November 9). America has an infrastructure bill. What happens next?. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2021/11/09/america-has-an-infrastructure-bill-what-happens-next/
Yu, A.W. (2018, March 30). With buildings and infrastructure, it pays to take a lifecycle perspective. MIT News. https://news.mit.edu/2018/life-cycle-perspective-for-buildings-infrastructure-0330