Biden’s infrastructure plan: how would it work?

President Biden’s administration has developed a few ambitious plans aimed at restoring various spheres of the American socio-economic landscape

Biden infrastructure plan

Biden’s infrastructure plan: how would it work?. Source: shutterstock.com

Being one of the strongest economies of the world, the US is making giant strides towards recovery despite the recent change of power.

The American Jobs Plan aims to create millions of good jobs for citizens while rebuilding the country’s infrastructure. Many investors are looking towards this initiative to discover the companies and industry segments which will undergo most transformations and grow within the next few years. Therefore, we’ll highlight the essentials of Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.

The total amount of investments projected to fuel US domestic infrastructure and make it competitive will equal about 1% of GDP annually over the period of eight years. According to the plan, the government will spend about $2 trillion this decade to improve the nation’s infrastructure, revive manufacturing, empower basic research and science, support supply chains, and reshape the care infrastructure. The President’s administration claims they’ll ensure new projects increase opportunities for neighborhoods cut off by historic investments, advance racial equity and environmental justice, and promote affordable access to public infrastructure.

As for transportation networks, American roads, bridges, railroads, maritime facilities, airports, and transit systems will require extensive repairs. Thus, the American Jobs Plan has allocated $621 billion to strengthen the transportation infrastructure. President Biden’s administration promises to use more sustainable and innovative materials, including cleaner steel and cement. At the same time, component parts will be made in the US, enabling local SMEs to participate in the design, construction, and manufacturing.

Roads and bridges

The government estimates that 173,000 total miles of American highways and major roads are in poor condition. The same may be said about 45,000 bridges. Thus, $115 billion will go to modernise the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets that are in most critical need of repair. These include:

  • 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main streets;
  • major large bridges in the country;
  • 10,000 smaller bridges, that are in most critical condition and provide essential connections to rural and tribal communities.

U.S. traffic fatalities in 2020 increased by about 7.2% compared to the previous year, although Americans drove less due to pandemic restrictions. Reducing road risks requires the participation of people from many different industries and groups, including road engineers, motor vehicle designers, law enforcement officers, health professionals, the media, educators, community groups and individual road users.

Therefore, $20 billion will serve to improve road safety for all users. The investment will increase existing safety programs and establish a new Safe Streets for All program. The latter initiative will fund state and local “vision zero” plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. With the new batch of investments, authorities in both urban and suburban areas may redesign the most dangerous road fragments.

Public transport

A great portion of public transportation requires replacement too. Namely, the Department of Transportation estimates a repair backlog of over $105 billion, representing more than 24,000 buses, 5,000 rail cars, 200 stations, and thousands of miles of track, signals, and power systems. The proposed plan will invest $85 billion to modernise and expand existing transit systems to meet rider demands.

Currently, public transit systems in the US face low demand since many people avoid subways and buses due to health concerns over traveling in confined spaces. However, a growing number of private vehicles on the roads are causing more traffic jams and increasing air pollution. The proposed initiative will contribute to solving sustainability issues as well.

Another problem is that many low-income families can’t afford private vehicles. Thus, some Democrat senators have even introduced legislation to help transit systems offer free or heavily discounted travel. The plan presupposes expanding public transportation routes to some low-income communities that were previously underserved while making the transport affordable.

Railroad

President Biden is calling on Congress to invest $80 billion in Amtrak’s repair and modernisation of the high-traffic Northeast Corridor. The program also aims to improve and expand existing railway corridors.

At the same time, railway improvements may not be the top priority at the initial stages of the plan implementation. According to a study in the Journal of the Transportation Research Board, bus riders are generally lower-income and take shorter trips, whereas rail riders have higher incomes and use it for longer trips. Since the plan pays greater attention to social equity, providing public transport access to low-income communities and ethnic minority groups must be on top of the agenda. Thus, “a focus on rail development can alter the distribution of public resources, potentially diverting funds away from lower-income urban residents and subsidising suburbanites,” suggests the study. However, efficient railroads are also needed for carrying cargo. In light of the planned expansion of intra-national supply chains, railway infrastructure can’t be ignored altogether.

EV

Another $174 billion investment is targeted at the EV market. About 50,000 diesel transit vehicles including school and transit buses should be replaced with electric ones. The plan will also upgrade domestic supply chains from raw materials to making car parts, batteries and EVs, and retool factories to compete globally. The President also wants to make EVs affordable by giving consumers point-of-sale rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework also includes building a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers along highways and in rural and disadvantaged communities.

Ports, waterways, and airports

President Biden plans to invest $25 billion in airports, and an additional $17 billion in inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries. The suggested reforms include the Airport Improvement Program, upgrades to FAA assets that ensure safe and efficient air travel, a new program to support terminal renovations and multimodal connections, as well as a Healthy Ports program. Some of the planned changes will help to eliminate the air and water pollution connected with the functioning of these transportation means.

Research & sustainability

The plan presupposes $20 billion to be spent on research aimed at safer and greener infrastructure solutions. For example, there’s an idea of advanced pavements that recycle carbon dioxide that needs further studies.

Another $50 billion of the planned investments will be dedicated to infrastructure resilience. Namely, the technologies and projects used to rebuild the national infrastructure will make it more resilient in the face of increasingly severe floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and other risks.

President Biden’s plan increases resilience in the most essential services, like the electric grid; food systems; urban infrastructure; community health and hospitals; roads, rail, and other transportation assets. His plan also targets those communities most vulnerable physically and financially to climate-driven disasters, aiming to build the destroyed infrastructure back above existing codes and standards. The plan includes support for agricultural resources management and climate-smart technologies, along with the protection and restoration of major land and water resources like Florida’s Everglades and the Great Lakes.

President Biden and Vice President Harris also announced their support for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. The $1.2 trillion initiative invests two-thirds of the resources that the President proposed in his American Jobs Plan into reducing greenhouse gas emissions, repairs with a focus on climate change mitigation, as well as delivering clean drinking water and improving wastewater infrastructure.

The Framework will eliminate the nation’s lead service lines and pipes, delivering clean drinking water to up to ten million American families and more than 400,000 schools and childcare facilities that currently don’t have it, including in Tribal nations and disadvantaged communities. About $45 billion will go to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and fund Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) grants. Another $10 billion will be used to monitor and remediate PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water, improve rural small water systems and household well and wastewater systems, including drainage fields.

Communications & energy

The Framework will also drive down prices for internet service, make it reliable and high-speed, and close the digital divide between communities. The President’s plan prioritises building “future proof” broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas to reach 100% high-speed broadband coverage. The plan will also promote price transparency and competition among internet providers, and increase Internet services affordability.

As for electricity, the plan will contribute to achieving 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035 by modernising the existing electric grid. The initiative also presupposes plugging orphan oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines, redeveloping idle real property into critical physical, social, and civic infrastructure, modernising education, medical, and other public facilities. All this will take over $100 billion.

SEE ALSO: