Washington Update

Infrastructure Investment Law Is Working: ARTBA

WASHINGTON—More than 36,000 transportation improvement projects, including at least one in every congressional district, have moved forward in the past 16 months as implementation of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) continues, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chair Paula Hammond told a Congressional panel on March 28.

In her testimony, Ms. Hammond, a senior vice president with WSP USA, cited examples of how federal transportation investments are yielding benefits for the American traveling public:

  • Pittsburgh’s Fern Hollow Bridge, which collapsed January 28, 2022, was reopened in less than a year as a 460-foot, four-lane span with the help of $25 million in federal funding, including IIJA money.
  • In Idaho, a 6.5-mile stretch of Highway 95 is being expanded with new lanes, wider shoulders, and more level grades.

The ARTBA chair acknowledged inflation continues to have impacts on the states’ ability to deliver projects.

“Increased material costs and supply chain challenges undoubtedly have had a dilutive impact on the law’s investments,” Ms. Hammond said. But she added, “It’s also clear this situation would have been dramatically worse had Congress opted for another flat-funded extension of surface transportation programs. Our analysis shows there has been real market growth over the last year.”

Ms. Hammond cautioned committee members about new and well-meaning IIJA requirements related to expansion of Buy America. “If Buy America provisions are not pursued with stakeholder input and articulated clearly, it could have the opposite outcome and result in unnecessary project delays,” she said.

Concluding her testimony, Ms. Hammond observed, “The initial data reveal IIJA’s highway, bridge and public transportation investments are working as intended. Many more benefits for the American people are still to come.”

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $256M For NY Clean Water Infrastructure Upgrades

NEW YORK—Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced more than $256 million to New York from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law through this year’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).

The funding will support New York communities in upgrading essential water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure that protects public health and water bodies. Nearly half of this funding will be available as grants or principal forgiveness loans helping underserved communities across America invest in water infrastructure, while creating good-paying jobs.

“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering an unprecedented investment in America that will revitalize essential water and wastewater infrastructure across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Not only will these funds expand access to clean water and safeguard the environment, but more underserved communities that have been left behind for far too long will be able to access them.”

“This major investment, awarded through the groundbreaking Bipartisan Infrastructure Law translates into replacing or repairing aging wastewater infrastructure, implementing water reuse and recycling, addressing stormwater and addressing the risks from emerging contaminants,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “EPA is committed to getting these critical water resources to underserved and disadvantaged communities.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said, “Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration and our Congressional delegation, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is already creating jobs and helping communities upgrade crucial water infrastructure. I applaud this new and significant investment of more than $256 million that will bolster the record investments we are making in clean water, particularly in disadvantaged communities, to improve our health, environment and economy.” 

One example in New York involves modifications and improvements to the City of Newburgh’s combined sewer overflow system, which will allow Newburgh to address the untreated sewage that gets discharged into the Hudson every time it rains. This project received more than $6.1 million in federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds in November 2022. This phase of the work involves the construction of 8,500 feet of new interceptor sewer ranging in size between 18 and 48 inches in diameter.

The announcement is part of the $2.4 billion announced as part of the second wave of funding made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to invest in America. In May 2022, EPA announced the initial allotment of $1.9 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to states, native tribes and territories through the CWSRF. That money is supporting hundreds of critical water infrastructure projects around the country.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes more than $50 billion available for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements across the country between FY2022 and FY2026. EPA is committed to ensuring every community has access to this historic investment and has centralized increasing investment in disadvantaged communities within its implementation.

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