Biden vows to ‘get it done’ after talks at Capitol
Leaving Capitol Hill Friday after a huddle with Democrats, President Joe Biden pledged to ‘get it done’ as Democrats strained to rescue a scaled back version of Biden’s $3.5 trillion government overhaul and salvage a related infrastructure bill. (Oct. 1)
The goalpost for President Joe Biden’s long-awaited $1 trillion infrastructure plan keeps on moving, pushing off any sense of clarity on what it will mean for states like Indiana on the ground level.
The details of who gets how much money, when and for what are murky until the bill becomes finalized. The newest deadline for a vote on this and the larger, but pared down, reconciliation bill, is Halloween.
What the White House has spelled out at this stage is the amount of appropriations proposed for each type of infrastructure in the bill — roads, bridges, water supply, the electric grid and even broadband — divvied up among the states according to current federal funding formulas. The bill’s final form may very well change these numbers.
Child care, climate change and $1.2 trillion worth of other initiatives: Where the bill stands
So far, the $1.2 trillion bill includes $556 billion in new federal spending to be distributed over the next five years. The rest of the bill re-ups money that is normally appropriated on an annual basis.
Generally, the federal money would go to existing federal programs, which distribute those additional funds to state departments of transportation, regional Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and other recipients of federal dollars, which then distribute funds locally according to their existing framework. Essentially, it’s extra money into the pipeline.
In addition, the bill includes some competitive pools of money that Indiana can fight for.
But what specific projects may come to fruition from these pots of money is nearly impossible to know yet. Agencies must first know what money is available before they can select project proposals. Major public works projects involve a lengthy process of getting federal money to localities and then to private builders, meaning new usable infrastructure may not surface for several years after the passage of the bill — if it gets passed.
Here is generally what would be in store for Indiana in the Senate’s version of the bill, which is what is potentially being voted on next week and may still change:
Roads and bridges: $7 billion
More than 1,000 Indiana bridges and 5,500 miles of highway are in poor condition, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Hoosiers pay an average of $638 a year in costs related to driving on poor roads, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Based on federal formula funding, Indiana would get $6.6 billion injected into federal-aid highway apportionment programs, which include surface transportation and highway safety improvement grant programs. The state would also get about $400 million toward bridge replacement and repairs. There are two pots of competitive money Indiana can try for: a $12.5 billion bridge investment program for economically significant bridges, and nearly $16 billion for major projects that deliver substantial economic benefits to communities but are too complex for traditional funding programs.
Public transit: $680 million
Commuting via public transit in Indiana takes 89% longer than by individual car, according to a White House fact sheet detailing Indiana’s approximate appropriations. Indianapolis’ expansion into bus rapid transit is an expensive effort to, in part, combat this issue. The city and state remain very car-centric — 85% of commuters in central Indiana’s eight-county region get to work by car, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Indiana would receive $680 million to improve public transportation options throughout the state.
Electric vehicle infrastructure: $100 million
President Biden wants to invest $7.5 billion to build out the nation’s first national network of electric vehicle chargers. Formula funding would grant Indiana $100 million to support the expansion of a state network. In addition, Indiana can apply for a portion of $2.5 billion of competitive grant money available.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently signed a memorandum of understanding with four other Midwestern states in the hopes of getting a competitive edge for that money. The Regional Electric Vehicle for the Midwest Memorandum of Understanding, which he signed Sept. 31, is a partnership with Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to coordinate the building of cohesive, standardized electric-friendly infrastructure, and competitively position the Midwest for these upcoming federal funds.
Broadband internet: $100 million
$100 million is the minimum allocation Indiana would receive to help improve broadband internet access across the state. The Federal Communications Commission’s definition of broadband is internet speeds of at least 25 mbps for downloading and 3 mbps for uploading. At least 10% of Indiana’s population does not have access to those speeds, according to the FCC’s broadband map.
Also under the bill, 24% of Hoosiers, or 1.6 million people, would be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, a government subsidy of $30 a month toward broadband service for families whose income is 200% of the federal poverty line.
Climate change, cyber attacks and extreme weather: $40 million+
Severe weather events cost Indiana an average of $500 million to $1 billion a year since the 1980s, with more recent years like 2006, 2008 and 2012 seeing totals between $2 billion and $5 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The infrastructure bill would invest $3.5 billion nationwide in weatherization — the process of making buildings more energy-efficient and resistant to the elements. It’s unclear how much of that would go to Indiana.
Additionally, Indiana expects to receive $20 million for wildfire protection and $20 million for protection against cyber attacks.
Water infrastructure: $751 million
Indiana is the most water-dependent state in the country in terms of its economy, according to a water supply study the Indiana Chamber released in 2014. While water is abundant now, future growth in demand necessitates careful planning, the report says.
The $751 million Indiana expects to receive is not only to improve water infrastructure, but to ensure that all communities have access to clean, safe drinking water. A goal of this bill is to work toward eliminating the nation’s lead service lines and pipes.
Airports: $170 million
Indiana’s expected allotment of $170 million is anticipated to go toward infrastructure improvements at the state’s airports. Indiana has 117 public-use airports, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
From September: Indianapolis airport gets largest federal grant in its history and in the country
Rail: New Amtrak lines?
In response to a major infusion of capital for rail outlined in the infrastructure bill — $66 billion — Amtrak announced a framework for its 15-year vision, which includes new daily routes through Indianapolis.
Amtrak’s $75 billion proposal includes four round trips a day to Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville, and seeks to add service to 160 communities around the country.
Read more: Amtrak’s plans for Indianapolis, pending Biden’s infrastructure bill
Indianapolis-specific projects: $17 million?
While the House is set to vote on the Senate’s version of the infrastructure bill, the House in July had also passed its own version: a $715 billion INVEST in America Act.
In this bill, the House included funding for two local transportation projects: $16 million toward the reconstruction project on Market Street and Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, and nearly $1 million toward electric vehicle charging stations for IndyGo, which uses electric buses on the Red Line and plans to purchase new electric buses in preparation for the Purple Line.
When the House and Senate pass different bills, they can go to conference and reconcile the differences — something the Senate has not yet agreed to.
U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat who represents Indianapolis and introduced those local line items into the House bill, said he will keep advocating for their inclusion in the final bill or bills.
“I hope people are not too discouraged — they call it sausage making for a reason,” he said. “I’m going to keep fighting for local projects.”
Contact IndyStar transportation reporter Kayla Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @kayla_dwyer17.
Credit: Source link