Wed, Nov 10, 2021 2:29 PM
By Mary Stroka / The Center Square contributor, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Pending President Joe Biden’s signature, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would approve billions of dollars in funding for Minnesota projects.
According to a fact sheet from the White House, the North Star State would receive:
$4.5 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs.$302 million for bridge replacement and repairs.More than $818 million for public transportation.$680 million for water infrastructure.At least $100 million for broadband internet.$20 million for wildfire protection.$17 million for cybersecurity.
The state has 661 bridges and about 5,000 miles of highway that are in poor condition, the fact sheet said, estimating drivers pay $543 annually due to driving on roads that are in need of repair.
“Minnesota can also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities,” the sheet said.
Public transportation allotments could address the 11% of Minnesota’s trains and transit vehicles deemed past usefulness. The amounts could change based on the 2020 census or annual transit service data reported to the FTA’s National Transit Database, the fact sheet noted.
Minnesota would receive $68 million toward expanding a network of EV chargers, and would be able to apply for additional $2.5 billion grant funding.
“The U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market,” the fact sheet said. “The President believes that must change.”
The bill also addresses at least 83,000 Minnesotans who reportedly do not have access to broadband internet coverage and makes 1.1 million Minnesotans eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which would help low-income families afford internet access.
“Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected,” the fact sheet said. “Yet 12% of Minnesota households do not have an internet subscription, and 1.5% of Minnesotans live in areas where, under the FCC’s benchmark, there is no broadband infrastructure.”
In the past decade, the state has experienced 11 extreme weather events, which have cost the state up to $10 billion. Funding for protection from cyberattacks and wildfires would address that. Nationally, there would be $3.5 billion for weatherization to reduce energy costs.
Clean water is another priority under the bill. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2018 Minnesota Infrastructure Report Card, large communities’ drinking water systems have met federal standards, there is limited information about private wells for rural Minnesotans. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated the state needs more than $7.5 billion in the next 20 years to address drinking water infrastructure.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported Monday that its proposed impaired waters list for 2022 includes 2,904 water bodies with 6,168 impairments, which is an increase of 305 water bodies and 417 new impairments and a removal of 31 waters.
Funding for airports is dependent on current passenger boarding and cargo data.
Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher estimated that the state would need to match the highway funding with about $1 billion of its own dollars, MPR News reported.
Minnesota Republicans and Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar voted against the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Passing the infrastructure bill without passing the Build Back Better Act first risks leaving behind childcare, paid leave, health care, climate action, housing, education, and a roadmap to citizenship,” Omar said in a news release.
Republican Rep. Pete Stauber said, while he wants an infrastructure bill, the bill he voted against is “reckless.”
“This massive spending package is not about real infrastructure, and instead will make businesses less competitive, outsource jobs, saddle American families and future generations with more debt and higher taxes, send inflation soaring to greater heights, and completely devastate our economy,” he said in a news release.