The passage of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill will allocate funding necessary to improve Virginia’s infrastructure, including $7.7 billion for highway and bridge repairs.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law on Nov. 15, was created to rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, according to a fact sheet from the White House. It will also expand the country’s responses to climate change, sustainable public transportation and systemic environmental discrimination.
The act will also support the creation of widespread high-speed internet, new infrastructure jobs and access to clean drinking water, according to the bill’s summary.
“I truly believe that 50 years from now, historians are going to look back at this moment and say, ‘That’s the moment America began to win the competition of the 21st century,’” Biden said in a speech during the signing of the bill on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 15.
After passage of the bill, the U.S. Department of Transportation released statements for how the act would help each of the 50 states.
“The need for action in Virginia is clear, and recently released state-level data demonstrates that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will deliver for Virginia,” the statement for Virginia read. “For decades, infrastructure in Virginia has suffered from a systemic lack of investment.”
Virginia will get an increase in federal transportation and infrastructure funding by one-third, according to a report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
“Watching this incredible piece of legislation become a law was truly inspiring,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney wrote in an email to his supporters after he had attended the bill signing. “This is what it looks like when the government is working — this is how progress is made.”
Over the next five years, Virginia will receive approximately $7.7 billion in federal highway formula funding for highways and bridges, according to the statement.
Virginia will also receive $43 million over the next five years through the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. The FAST Act supports highway traffic safety programs to reduce vehicle-related accidents and deaths.
Local Virginia governments will also be able to compete for a new $6 billion funding program called Safe Streets for All, an initiative to reduce crashes and fatalities among pedestrians, according to the fact sheet.
Virginia will use SMART SCALE, a project prioritization process, “to identify projects that provide the best bang for the buck, Marshall Herman, a representative from the central office of the Virginia Department of health, wrote in an email to The Collegian on Nov. 30.
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“During Virginia's last call for projects, we received $6.3 billion in requests for $1.4 billion in available funding,” Herman wrote in the email. “This means we have a prioritized list of potential improvements on the shelf that could benefit from the funds in this bill.”
The bill would provide more than $500 million to help address climate change, according to VDOT. The bill will increase funds for electric vehicle charging stations and includes money to help reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.
The bipartisan infrastructure law also aims to create healthier, more sustainable options for people that use public transportation. About 10% of Virginia’s transit vehicles are past their useful lifespan, according to the statement .
Based on formula funding alone, about $1.2 billion will be allocated to Virginia over the next five years to improve public transportation options, according to the DOT’s statement, to reduce travel times while improving sustainability and accessibility.
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