Congress recently passed a $1.1 trillion infrastructure package, and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Arizona recently to discuss how the state could benefit from the funding set forth in this new bill. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law on November 15, 2021, and Buttigieg visited Phoenix on November 19. At events around the Valley, he discussed the different benefits the state will see with money from this bill, like an expansion of the Phoenix light rail transit system.
What is the Infrastructure Bill?
The infrastructure bill is $1.1 trillion set aside for infrastructure improvements across the country. The bill is a historic investment in the country’s infrastructure and could bring about 2 million jobs per year over the coming decade.
Buttigieg’s agency will be distributing $120 billion in grant funding that through the infrastructure bill. In total, the bill should be able to reach every part of the country with money for roads, bridges, ports, rail transit, safe water, the power grid, broadband internet and more.
The spending package is going to be paid for by tapping into $210 billion in unspent COVID-19 relief aid and $53 billion in unemployment insurance aid some states have halted, along with other money, like petroleum reserve sales and spectrum auctions for 5G services.
How Arizona Might Benefit from the Infrastructure Bill
Arizona is set to receive at least $7.9 billion from the new bill, with most of that money going toward highway projects around the state. Arizona will also receive money earmarked for bridge improvements and replacement, airport updates and public transit across the state.
When Buttigieg was in Arizona last week, he appeared at events throughout the day with Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, promoting the benefits of the bill in Arizona. While in Phoenix, Buttigieg announced $158 million for public transportation in Arizona, for a 1.6 mile northwest extension of the Valley Metro Light Rail.
The potential Amtrak service between Phoenix and Tucson could also receive funding from this new infrastructure bill. Phoenix is currently the largest city in the U.S. without passenger rail service, so this new Amtrak service would begin to connect the city to others.
Additional money Arizona receives will go to internet access for Arizonans. $100 million is set to go to expanding broadband internet in new areas, and providing vouchers to help low income people or families afford home internet connection.
There is much more that goes into the infrastructure bill than just highways, trains and internet. Water infrastructure, electric vehicle charging stations, wildfire prevention and cybersecurity all fall under this new infrastructure bill, as well, and could see funding in Arizona.
Additional Funding is Possible for Arizona through Grants
Buttigieg’s agency will be reviewing grant applications that are submitted for money that is not already allocated to states and projects. Local governments can apply for these grants that would bring significantly more money to the state, in addition to the money already set for Arizona. This will allow local cities and counties to work on different infrastructure projects that are important to their areas.