U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks to the media during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S. November 8, 2021.
Leah Millis | Reuters
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday the administration is ready to distribute $2.9 billion in grants for infrastructure projects for bridges, roads and other infrastructure.
The sum, which is part of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law four months ago, is intended to fund public works projects, including expansions and repairs to highways, bridges, freight, ports and public transport.
Buttigieg told reporters Tuesday that applications for the funds must be received by May 23 at 5 p.m. ET and approvals are expected sometime in the fall.
“Over the past year I have traveled and seen some of the most pressing and serious infrastructure needs in this country,” the transport secretary said. “Often we see infrastructure that is generations old, in dire need of repair or replacement.”
State, regional and local governments will be eligible to apply for funding through three separate programs with a single application.
The National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program is designed for massive projects that span multiple jurisdictions or are “significant regional projects”. The Department of Transportation will allocate 50% of funding to projects over $100 million and distribute $1 billion of funds in the first year.
The second program, known as Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, is intended to fund smaller highway, freight and railroad construction projects. The Biden Infrastructure Act provides $8 billion for this program over five years.
The remaining portion of the funding will fund the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program with funds exclusively available to rural communities. Some $300 million in grants will be available through this project in 2022.
The $2.9 billion is a large, albeit small, portion of the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill the president signed into law in November. The White House said in a press release Wednesday morning that the fast turnaround and streamlined application process will make it easier for state and local governments to bolster the pipeline of “shovel-ready” projects and reduce bottlenecks. supply chain bottlenecks across the country.
“These investments will create well-paying jobs, grow the economy, reduce emissions, improve safety, make our transportation more sustainable and resilient, and expand transportation options in rural America and other underserved communities. served,” the administration said in the statement.
The broader legislation channels $110 billion in additional funding to repair roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband and about $90 billion in guaranteed funding for public transit over five years.
While much of Wednesday’s announcement focused on the specifics of grant applications, the administration noted that it views infrastructure projects as a way to tackle supply chain hurdles. responsible for the rapid rise in inflation.
“Through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, this funding will enable more communities to build vital infrastructure projects that also strengthen supply chains and reduce costs for American families,” the administration said in its statement. Press release.
Projects funded by the bill will also have a secondary economic impact by reducing time spent in traffic, wear and tear on cars and improving access to public transportation, the administration said.
But critics note that it will likely take months, if not years, before large-scale infrastructure projects manage to calm inflation.
Still, inflation, currently at a 40-year high of 7.9%, could moderate over the next year as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. A resolution to the Russian-Ukrainian war could also help stabilize wheat and crude oil prices.