Monumental $ 1.2 trillion bill passed to revitalize nation’s infrastructure | Best Best & Krieger LLP

ByRichard C. Sloan

Nov 18, 2021

Highlights of the bill President Biden enacted on November 15

President Biden enacted a landmark $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure law. The bill contains significant federal investments for roads, bridges, ports, rail transportation, water infrastructure and Internet connections, and $ 550 billion in new federal spending over a five-year period, in addition to the routine funding of transport programs. The infrastructure bill’s programs will be administered by the designated federal agency, with the package’s first round of funding expected to be available in 2022.

In federal agencies, several existing and new programs will receive unprecedented levels of investment. For municipalities and special districts, this bill presents a plethora of opportunities to meet the diverse infrastructure needs within communities and across the country. Through this landmark infrastructure bill, various existing programs are being increased to unprecedented levels to provide much-needed federal financial support.

For local authorities and special districts, this package makes it possible to seek federal financial support for priority projects for each. The key to successfully receiving financial support from federal agencies is to identify the best federal funding pot for the desired project. Local governments and special districts should explore funding opportunities for existing programs as well as funding for new programs. Best Best & Krieger is available to help local governments and special districts successfully navigate this infrastructure set and the opportunities ahead over the next five years.

The infrastructure package is a key part of President Biden’s multi-pronged economic agenda. A second part is the Build Back Better plan, which will provide additional investments in the country through a multitude of means, including health care, childcare, additional water supply infrastructure and Labour Standards. The Build Back Better plan is awaiting passage in the House and, once passed, the timing of any potential Senate action remains to be seen.

Below are the highlights of the Infrastructure Bill:

Roads and bridges
The bill provides $ 110 billion in new funding for road and bridge infrastructure. Specifically, the $ 40 billion for bridge repairs is the largest investment dedicated to bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system.

Water and wastewater
In total, water infrastructure will receive $ 55 billion in funding which will be administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, $ 8.3 billion will be administered by the Bureau of Reclamation and $ 16.65 billion will be administered by the Army Corps. of Engineers of Civil Works. These significant financial investments will be available for both new and existing water supply and wastewater projects.

Highlights of water financing:

  • $ 11.7 billion for Clean Water State Revolving Fund, states are required to distribute 49% of funds as grants or principal remittance loans
  • $ 11.7 billion for the State Revolving Fund for Drinking Water, states are required to distribute 49% of funds in the form of grants or principal remittance loans
  • $ 15 billion to replace lead pipes through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, states are required to distribute 49% of funds in the form of grants or principal remission loans
  • $ 4 billion for Drinking Water State Revolving Funds capital grants to mitigate emerging contaminants, including perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
  • $ 1.15 billion for water storage, storage and groundwater supply projects
  • $ 3.2 billion for aging infrastructure
  • $ 1 billion for previously authorized rural water supply projects
  • $ 550 million for water recycling and reuse projects
  • $ 450 million for large-scale water recycling and reuse projects with a construction cost of over $ 500 million
  • $ 500 million for dam security
  • $ 400 million for WaterSMART
  • $ 300 million for Bureau of Reclamation obligations under Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan
  • $ 250 million for the restoration of aquatic ecosystems
  • $ 250 million for water desalination projects
  • $ 11.6 billion for construction funding (Army Corps of Engineers)
  • $ 4 billion for operations and maintenance funding (Army Corps of Engineers)
  • $ 150 million for investigation funding (Army Corps of Engineers)
  • $ 75 million for WIFIA direct loans and guaranteed loans (Army Corps of Engineers)

Broadband and Internet access
The bill invests $ 65 billion in broadband infrastructure, affordability and adoption. The bill establishes new minimum speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 20 Mbps for downloads in order to be eligible for funding.

Highlights of broadband financing:

  • $ 42.5 billion to create the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEADP) which will be administered by the NTIA at the Department of Commerce
  • $ 14 billion to permeate “broadband emergency delivery,” which was originally adopted as part of the COVID-19 relief program in December. The permanent benefit would reduce the subsidy for the monthly broadband bill of an eligible household from $ 50 to $ 30
  • $ 2.75 billion for the implementation of the Digital Equity Act, which provides funds for states to develop plans to ensure that at-risk, disadvantaged and vulnerable communities have affordable internet connections
  • $ 2 billion for USDA’s ReConnect program
  • $ 1 billion to build ‘mid-mile’ broadband infrastructure
  • $ 1 billion for the new state and local cybersecurity grant program, which will provide funding over four years to tackle cybersecurity risks and threats. Funding will be distributed by states to local governments, with local shares ranging from 10 percent local match in year one to 40 percent match in year four.
  • As of January 1, 2022, broadband facilities capable of providing 100/20 service can now be funded through private activity obligations (article 80401). There are specific eligibility conditions that could prevent the use of such a funding tool in US cities.

Power grid, cybersecurity and resilience
A significant part of the bill aims to increase the security and resilience of the power grid and cyber systems, with $ 65 billion spent on updating power lines and cables and hacking prevention efforts. In addition, $ 47 billion is for investments in cybersecurity and climate resilience measures for infrastructure threatened by natural disasters, including floods, wildfires and droughts.

Public transport, electric vehicles and ferries
Public transit will receive $ 39 billion to expand transportation systems across the country, with a focus on green investments. The bill will invest $ 7.5 billion in electric vehicle charging stations and $ 5 billion in electric and hybrid school buses.

A total of $ 2.5 billion is planned for the construction and replacement of ferries. Over the next five years, $ 570 million is planned for the construction of new ferries and ferry terminals. In addition, $ 250 million is earmarked for electric and “low emission” ferries.

Passenger and freight train
As part of the largest investment in Amtrak since its inception over 50 years ago, Amtrak will receive $ 66 billion in funding to improve rail service routes. These funds will eliminate Amtrak’s maintenance backlog.

Airports, ports and waterways
The bill includes $ 25 billion for airports to improve runways, gates, terminals and traffic control towers. Port infrastructure will receive $ 25 billion.

Environmental sanitation
The deal will invest $ 21 billion in environmental remediation of shallow and brownfield sites, abandoned mines and old oil and gas wells.

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