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After months of negotiations, US lawmakers finally reached an agreement to allocate $1.2 trillion to much-needed public works projects. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021, includes $550 billion in new spending. The rest will be reallocated from already existing projects and funds. Here are some of the many infrastructure improvements that can be expected across the country over the next five years.
Roads and bridges
Almost a fifth of the new funding — $110 billion — will be used to improve highways and major roads and to repair, or replace, the estimated 45,000 bridges believed to be in poor condition. The legislation also includes funds for "Safe Streets and Roads For All" — an initiative to reduce traffic fatalities and severe injuries on all public roads.
Access to clean drinking water
Clean tap water is something most Americans take for granted. However, White House officials estimate that up to 10 million US households and 400,000 schools and child care centers across the country lack safe drinking water. Even worse, the water is frequently transported via old lead pipes, built before the toxic metal was banned. The new legislation allocates about $55 billion to clean up water sources, and an additional $15 billion will be used to replace the pipes.
Reliable and affordable high-speed internet access
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of broadband access for everything — from work to school to just keeping in touch with loved ones. The bill allots $65 billion to ensure every American has reliable high-speed internet access. Some of the funds will be used to create a permanent program to reduce the service's cost for low-income families.
Improved public transit
Well over $100 billion will be used to upgrade and expand airports, railways, and public transit systems. Old gas-powered transit vehicles, including buses, will be replaced with low or zero-emission vehicles.
Fortify the nation's power grid
The 2021 state-wide power outage in Texas brought forth the urgent need to modernize the country's power grid system. The $65 billion set aside will be used to lay additional lines and develop more efficient and eco-friendly technologies to harness electricity.
Who will pay for the infrastructure upgrades?
The infrastructure upgrades will be funded through a variety of sources. These include $210 billion from unspent COVID-19 funds, $53 million from the unemployment insurance fund, and about $28 billion from more vigilant tax enforcement of cryptocurrency transactions.
Resources: Whitehouse.gov, NPR.org