On November 5, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending bill that will make historic investments in core infrastructure priorities including roads and bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, the electric grid, and broadband.
The legislation, titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), will have major implications for states and municipalities of all sizes, as well as the entities involved in responding to governments’ needs for hard and cyber infrastructure.
Improvements to roadways, ports and mass transit are the focus of the legislation and the majority of the funding is targeted at these traditional hard infrastructure projects. U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) has championed the massive infrastructure bill and pushed for its passage.
This weekend, Senator Portman noted the massive impact the IIJA will have on Ohio, highlighting the bill’s bridge investment program which will award competitive grants to certain governmental entities to improve the condition of bridges. “This additional federal funding means we are one step closer to a solution for the Brent Spence Bridge,” Portman said.
The Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Cincinnati, Ohio with Covington, Kentucky has one of the busiest trucking routes in the nation. Questions about its safety and long shutdowns for repair have long concerned area residents as well as the business owners responsible for the more than $400 billion of freight which passes over the bridge every year.
While hard infrastructure priorities like bridge maintenance, port modernization, freight rail, and highway improvements account for a majority of the new spending appropriated by the bill (which totals $550 billion over five years), a sizable portion is dedicated to the expansion of broadband networks and the improvement of cybersecurity.
The new cybersecurity grant program and record-setting investments in broadband development could be game changing for state and local leaders wishing to modernize and protect their communities in these ways.
The U.S. Senate approved the IIJA in August 2020. Friday’s vote means the infrastructure bill will now move to the desk of President Joe Biden, who has indicated a bill signing ceremony will happen soon. Answers to questions about the billions of dollars in new infrastructure grants and programming are below.
Question: How will the money be distributed?
Answer: The IIJA contains formulaic allocations of funds as well as earmarks and competitive grants. Some categories and sub-categories contain both non-competitive and competitive grants.
Question: Which projects will qualify for funding?
Answer: The bill details specific funding streams for the specific projects included in its provisions. Categories of projects included in the $550 billion in new spending are below.