Monday, May 29, 2023

Roads, Transit, Internet: What's In The $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill For New Mexico?

New Mexico legislators weigh in on their additions to the bill


Editor's note: To see what benefits New Mexico will see from the new law, be sure to read all the way to the end for our staff report on the $3.7 billion expected to directly benefit the Land of Enchantment.

By MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press with additional reporting from The Paper. staff | WASHINGTON (AP) — The $1 trillion infrastructure plan that now goes to President Joe Biden to sign into law has money for roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, broadband internet and more.

The House passed the bipartisan plan Friday night and Biden said Saturday he will hold a signing ceremony when lawmakers return from a week's recess.

The new law promises to reach almost every corner of the country. It's a historic investment that the president has compared to the building of the transcontinental railroad and Interstate Highway System. The White House is projecting that the investments will add, on average, about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade.

The bill cleared the House on a 228-206 vote, ending weeks of intraparty negotiations in which liberal Democrats insisted the legislation be tied to a larger, $1.75 trillion social spending bill — an effort to press more moderate Democrats to support both.

The Senate passed the legislation on a 69-30 vote in August after rare bipartisan negotiations, and the House kept that compromise intact. Thirteen House Republicans voted for the bill, giving Democrats more than enough votes to overcome a handful of defections from progressives.

Here's a breakdown of the bill:


The bill would provide $110 billion to repair the nation's aging highways, bridges and roads. According to the White House, 173,000 total miles or nearly 280,000 kilometers of America's highways and major roads and 45,000 bridges are in poor condition. And the almost $40 billion for bridges is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the national highway system, according to the Biden administration.


The $39 billion for public transit in the legislation would expand transportation systems, improve accessibility for people with disabilities and provide dollars to state and local governments to buy zero-emission and low-emission buses. The Transportation Department estimates that the current repair backlog is more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations and thousands of miles of track and power systems.


To reduce Amtrak's maintenance backlog, which has worsened since Superstorm Sandy nine years ago, the bill would provide $66 billion to improve the rail service's Northeast Corridor (457 miles, 735 km), as well as other routes. It's less than the $80 billion Biden — who famously rode Amtrak from Delaware to Washington during his time in the Senate — originally asked for, but it would be the largest federal investment in passenger rail service since Amtrak was founded 50 years ago.


The bill would spend $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations, which the administration says are critical to accelerating the use of electric vehicles to curb climate change. It would also provide $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses and hybrids, reducing reliance on school buses that run on diesel fuel.


The legislation's $65 billion for broadband access would aim to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families and tribal communities. Most of the money would be made available through grants to states.


To protect against the power outages that have become more frequent in recent years, the bill would spend $65 billion to improve the reliability and resiliency of the power grid. It would also boost carbon capture technologies and more environmentally friendly electricity sources like clean hydrogen.


The bill would spend $25 billion to improve runways, gates and taxiways at airports and to improve terminals. It would also improve aging air traffic control towers.


The legislation would spend $55 billion on water and wastewater infrastructure. It has $15 billion to replace lead pipes and $10 billion to address water contamination from polyfluoroalkyl substances — chemicals that were used in the production of Teflon and have also been used in firefighting foam, water-repellent clothing and many other items.


The five-year spending package would be paid for by tapping $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid some states have halted, along with an array of smaller pots of money, like petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G services.


The federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act allocates $1 trillion in funding mostly by supplementing federal programs that allocated funds by formula to states and local jurisdictions. At least $3.725 billion in formula funding would go to New Mexico automatically, plus the opportunity to apply for large amounts of competitive funding according to an analysis from the office of US Senator Martin Heinrich.

New Mexico's Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan both weighed in on key provisions of the bill they successfully worked to include. Two bills introduced by Lujan were incorporated into the larger infrastructure bill. Those included funding to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells and funding to fight DWI with new technology.

Senator Martin Heinrich is proud of his work to modify legislation to authorize the use of more renewable energy on power grids, securing $500 million for energy storage research to advance battery storage technology for grids, and securing $200 million for the development of clean hydrogen production which is also a priority of Governor Lujan Grisham as the state moves to a zero-carbon energy future.

Heinrich also highlighted $7.5 billion in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure funding he supported along with $3.5 billion for carbon renewal projects.

The environment will also win big thanks to funding in the bill. Heinrich successfully secured $5 billion for western water programs including fully funding the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Project (ENMRWA) and $50 million for Colorado River endangered species recovery programs for the Upper Colorado and San Juan Basin, and $250 million for trail and stream restoration projects.

According to an analysis from the office of Senator Heinrich, specifically for New Mexico, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will:

Repair and rebuild our roads and bridges with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Based on formula funding alone, New Mexico would expect to receive $2.5 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years. New Mexico 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.

Build a network of EV chargers to facilitate long-distance travel and provide convenient charging options. The U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle (EV) sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market. The bill invests $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States and is a critical element to accelerate the adoption of EVs to address the climate crisis and support domestic manufacturing jobs. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, New Mexico would expect to receive $38 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. New Mexico will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.

Help connect every American to reliable high-speed internet. 10.7% of New Mexicans live in areas where, under the FCC’s benchmark, there is no broadband infrastructure. Even where infrastructure is available, broadband may be too expensive to be within reach. 21% of New Mexico households do not have an internet subscription. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, New Mexico will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 223,941 New Mexicans who currently lack it. And, under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, 785,000 or 38.1% of people in New Mexico will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

Prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyberattacks, and extreme weather events. From 2010 to 2020, New Mexico has experienced 14 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $5 billion in damages. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, based on historical formula funding levels, New Mexico will expect to receive $38 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $13 million to protect against cyberattacks. New Mexicans will also benefit from the bill’s historic $3.5 billion national investment in weatherization which will reduce energy costs for families.

Deliver clean drinking water to every American and eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes. Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack safe drinking water. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, based on the traditional state revolving fund formula, New Mexico will expect to receive $355 million over five years to improve water infrastructure across the state and ensure that clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.

Improve our nation’s airports. The United States built modern aviation, but our airports lag far behind our competitors. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, airports in New Mexico would receive approximately $90 million for infrastructure development for airports over five years.

Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.


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