Infrastructure Week is finally here after President Joe Biden released his plan to scatter $ 2.3 trillion from the ocean to the Shining Sea.
The money would serve many purposes, including trains, bridges, safe drinking water, housing, and electrification. There’s even a wage increase for America’s “nursing infrastructure,” the staff – mostly women in color – who work in adult nursing homes.
What we don’t yet know is which specific projects would be funded, a question that may take months to answer if the plan is even passed. Republicans and some corporate groups have already objected to Biden’s proposed corporate tax increases to help cover the bill.
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But when it comes to transportation at least, those in charge at Puget Sound know where nearby projects can attract federal funding.
At the foot of Main Street in Edmonds, a ferry dock, railroad tracks, downtown streets and a beach entrance have existed for generations. It will take more than $ 100 million to untangle modern traffic, which the city lacks.
Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Spoke about it at a hearing this month.
“In my hometown of Edmonds, Washington, a train blocked the only access on the water for three hours. This required first responders to literally crawl through the railcars to help a pregnant woman about to give birth. “This train stopped in April 2016 after it hit and killed a man.
However, Cantwell’s primary focus is to reduce the deteriorating congestion that could prevent $ 443 billion worth of goods from moving through the most trade-dependent state.
And she’s definitely looking to Biden’s plan to improve the level crossings.
“I feel like I am in every part of the state, you hear about it,” she said on Wednesday.
“Vancouver [Washington] tried to better connect to the waterfront and build developments, but you have this vital train infrastructure trying to connect to the port, ”she said.
Spokane Valley wants solutions on the busy Pines Road, where four lanes cross the tracks near the riverside hiking bike path. Traffic is clogging the railroad in fast-growing Marysville, while officials in Lakewood, Pierce County fear people will be hit by passenger trains.
Cantwell predicts local communities will ask to straighten the abrupt curve between DuPont and Nisqually, where three people were killed in an Amtrak derailment in 2017.
Biden’s plan calls for $ 85 billion “to modernize the existing transit and help agencies expand their systems to meet driver demand.” The White House promised to double federal transit aid.
Sound Transit is seeking a $ 1.9 billion increase in Federal Transit Administration grants for the Lynnwood and Federal Way light rail lines under construction. Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit, believes they would qualify under Biden’s plan.
Rogoff noted an unprecedented passage in the 25-page text: “Every dollar spent on rebuilding our infrastructure during the Biden administration will be used to prevent, mitigate and withstand the effects of the climate crisis.”
“This is very heartwarming to those of us looking for funding to expand our systems to new communities,” said Rogoff.
That $ 85 billion could be scattered thinly, however, as older transit agencies are already struggling with repair and replacement backlogs totaling $ 105 billion. Would there be enough left to fill Sound Transit’s $ 11.5 billion “affordability gap”?
Sound Transit remains attractive, Rogoff said, because it pursues other goals Biden has set – building affordable housing around train stations and creating a $ 48 billion workforce development plan that includes construction training.
Cantwell predicted that some members of Congress will target more than $ 85 billion to enlarge the transit pie.
Biden’s plan promises to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and paths and to repair “the ten most economically important bridges in the country that are in need of reconstruction” as well as 10,000 smaller bridges.
The federal highway administration was unable to submit a list on Wednesday. But Washington and Oregon already estimate $ 1 billion or more in federal aid to replace old I-5 bridges over the Columbia River, totaling more than $ 3 billion.
Cantwell also mentioned the Highway 2 trestle and the cracked West Seattle Bridge as competitors.
high speed train
Amtrak would receive $ 80 billion to upgrade or expand existing service across the country, particularly the popular Northeast Corridor. Passenger trains would reach Phoenix, Las Vegas, Columbus, Nashville and a few other cities that Amtrak doesn’t currently operate, the agency said.
However, the plan does not fund high-speed trains that could rival those in France or Japan. The failure comes as a surprise after Pete Buttigieg, the new Secretary of Transportation, declared this winter that the US should lead the world on bullet trains.
Bullet train supporters in the Northwest, including Governor Jay Inslee, have identified the 325-mile Vancouver, BC-Seattle-Portland corridor as a suitable region for 250 miles per hour, which Washington state estimates would cost $ 42 billion.
“We certainly expected to see something,” said Paige Malott, chair of the Cascadia Rail advocacy group. She remains optimistic, however, as a separate bill provides for $ 205 billion plus private and local funding for multiple rail lines.
Perhaps the government will revive the high-speed ambitions later, Cantwell said. This week’s Biden plan, she said, appears to be designed to meet “immediate needs for competitiveness”.