Senate passes $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill
On Aug. 10, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill aimed at repairing and enhancing the nation’s infrastructure including transportation and water tunnels along with roads, bridges and the electric grid.
The bipartisan bill advanced out of the Senate with a 60-30 vote with 19 Republicans voting yes. The bill still needs to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives where it faces a less certain future before it can be sent to President Joe Biden. Following the Aug. 10 vote, Senate Democrats pushed ahead with a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation.
The bill -- called the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act -- features $550 billion in new federal spending over five years. It invests $110 billion in roads, bridges and major projects, $66 billion in passenger and freight rail, $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid, $65 billion to expand broadband internet access, $39 billion to modernize and expand transit systems and $7.5 billion to build a national network of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Among other priorities, the bill also includes $55 billion for water infrastructure, $15 billion of which will be directed toward replacing lead pipes.
NJ.com reported that New York and New Jersey are among the states that could see the largest benefit from the bill.
The legislation provided several possible funding sources for the federal share of the long-awaited $11.6 billion Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River. The long-sought project would build a new tunnel to carry Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains to and from New York’s Penn Station, allowing the existing tubes to be closed to repair damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
“The biggest obstacle has has been funding,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg during a visit to New Jersey. “This is our chance to do something very big about that biggest obstacle.”
That funding could come from $16 billion set aside for major projects deemed to provide substantial economic benefits, $30 billion earmarked for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, and $8 billion for capital improvement grants.
New York City’s transit system will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill worked out in the Senate this week, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, said.
New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates New York’s subway, bus and commuter-rail networks, stands to receive at least $10.7 billion in federal funding through the bill, Schumer said.
Funding for public transit would also go toward advancing several other major projects in the New York metropolitan area, Sen. Chuck Schumer said, including the Gateway plan to build rail tunnels under the Hudson River, completion of the Second Avenue subway in Manhattan and rehabilitation of the rail tunnels under the East River.
New York will also be a focal point of much of Amtrak’s plan to modernize the Northeast Corridor, which connects Washington to Boston. The bill includes $58 billion for rail projects, most of which would go to Amtrak.
Amtrak owns the corridor as well as Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan and the crumbling, 110-year-old tunnels under the Hudson that are the only way for trains to travel between New York City and New Jersey. The $30 billion Gateway plan includes the rehabilitation of the old two-track tunnel and construction of another one, as well as extensive improvements on both sides of the Hudson.
The domestic mining industry is also expected to benefit from the passage from the bill as infrastructure will require an increased amount of raw materials including critical minerals needed for the upgrading for the nation’s electric grid. Industrial minerals will also be in high demand for the construction of roads and bridges.