Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Transportation (DOTD) Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D., has announced the support of the Biden Administration and U.S. Senate for passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The bipartisan act allocates $550 billion to the states for infrastructure improvements. Louisiana is expected to receive $5.8 billion of that amount over the next five years.
Today’s bipartisan vote on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will have an everlasting impact on Louisiana and is a huge step in the right direction toward helping the state clear a backlog of road and bridge repairs that our state has long needed to address,” said Gov. Edwards. “We are that much closer to receiving nearly $6 billion from the nationwide allocation of $550 billion. This will mean jobs and a much-improved transportation system that our citizens deserve. Of special interest is the investment in ports, which will be of great benefit to our urban and rural ports across the state. In addition, this bill will greatly help to eliminate the digital divide in our state by 2029. It will provide $100 million that will help solve a portion of our broadband access challenges across the state. This has been a long time in coming and took a lot of hard work to pass. I am grateful to Sen. Bill Cassidy for his leadership on the IIJA, which will bring benefits to our state for generations to come. I urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to quickly approve this bill and make the benefits it promises our state and nation a reality.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA) includes the Surface Transportation
Reauthorization Act of 2021, legislation reported by the Senate Committee on Environment and
Public Works in May 2021. The legislation would invest record amounts of funding in the
nation’s highway programs to improve and repair highways and bridges, tackle climate
change and resilience, and enhance safety and mobility for the American people.
Improving Highways and Bridges
According to the IIJA, the bill increases funding for core highway formula programs and distributes 90 percent of the total funding from the Highway Trust Fund to the states by formula. This would be the largest amount of funding ever authorized by a surface transportation bill and does not change the share of the formula funding that each state receives.
The Bridge Investment Program provides $12.5 billion over a five-year period for a new Bridge Investment Program that funds competitive grants to address the nationwide backlog of bridge repair and rehabilitation projects. It also includes $3.265 billion from the Highway Trust Fund along with an additional $9.235 billion appropriated for this program in Division H.
The Bridge Formula Program
The bill appropriates $27.5 billion for a new bridge formula program to provide funding to states and Tribal governments to repair and rebuild bridges that are in poor condition. It will help counties and local governments that struggle to pay for costly bridge projects. Fifteen percent of funds will be set aside for “off-system bridges,” including projects on locally-owned facilities that are not on the National Highway System.
The INFRA Funding bill provides $8 billion over five years for the National Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program, known as “INFRA.” INFRA provides competitive grants for highway, bridge, and multimodal freight projects of national and regional significance. The funding includes $4.8 billion from the Highway Trust Fund and an additional $3.2 billion appropriated for INFRA in Division H.
The bill also includes a climate title with more than $18 billion in funding from the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) as well as an additional $5 billion in funding appropriated for EV charging infrastructure. The bill touches on reducing carbon emissions from transportation, creates a new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Costsaving Transportation (PROTECT) grant program, authorizes $2.5 billion from the Highway Trust Fund over five years for a new competitive grant program to build alternative fuel corridors along with the National Highway System and electric vehicle charging infrastructure and alternative fueling infrastructure in communities across the country, aims to reduce air emissions from trucks idling at port facilities, authorizes a new Healthy Streets Program for eligible projects, including projects that mitigate urban heat islands, improve air quality, and reduce stormwater runoff.
The bill also authorizes the creation of new Resilience and Adaptation Centers of Excellence, which will advance research to help make surface transportation infrastructure more resilient to natural disasters and extreme weather.
Enhancing Safety and Equity for All Road Users
The bill provides $1 Billion for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, which provides competitive grants for planning and projects to remove, retrofit or mitigate existing highways that were built through neighborhoods. The bill would provide states with increased flexibility to address pressing safety needs with formula funding under the Highway Safety Improvement Program and includes a new special rule to provide targeted funding to address the safety needs of vulnerable road users under certain circumstances. $1.3 billion will also be set aside over five years for the Railway-Highway Crossing Program.
Other aspects the bill touches on include transportation alternatives, safe routes to school, safe bicycling and walking options, and reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. The bill systemizes core elements of the “One Federal Decision” policy for major surface transportation projects, aims to improve Federal Agency coordination, and will improve accountability by directing the secretary to carry out a process to track and annually submit to Congress a report containing the time to complete an environmental impact statement and an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The IIJA will now move to the U.S. House of Representatives for debate.
“I commend the U.S. Senate for passing the IIJA today and demonstrating the bipartisanship that’s so important for this legislation to pass into law,” said Secretary Wilson, “Infrastructure knows no politics, and the IIJA will benefit everybody and all modes of transportation in our state. Our investment of the nearly $6 billion over the next five years will make a sizable impact on the roads and bridges that have been in need of upgrades for years. I join Gov. Edwards in thanking Sen. Cassidy and all those who worked tirelessly to ensure this act passed the senate.”