Coming out of the pandemic crisis, Pennsylvania – and the nation – must make smart investments to drive our forward progress. Infrastructure is one area where investments are necessary, because a modern and reliable infrastructure network keeps our economy churning, provides jobs across several industries and helps to ensure the health and safety of our citizens and visitors to the Commonwealth.
Just this week, a critical federal infrastructure funding bill that the PA Chamber has spent much of this year urging lawmakers to enact was signed into law by President Biden.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act gets to the heart of the PA Chamber’s mission to “Propel PA Forward” – the next important phase of our “Bringing PA Back” initiative – across several areas. The roughly $1.2 trillion bill, which is responsibly paid for by repurposing unused federal funds from other programs, contains an estimated $550 billion in new spending in every sector of infrastructure – from transportation and water to energy, broadband, and the maximization from our nation’s natural resources.
Given that Pennsylvania is a key player in the energy industry, boasts one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world and is geographically located within a day’s drive from 60 percent of the nation’s population, it’s not hard to imagine the numerous ways in which we’ll benefit from this signature investment.
Here’s a breakdown on how this infrastructure investment will be spent in Pennsylvania:
- $11.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $1.6 billion for bridge replacement and repairs, with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity and safety for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians;
- $2.8 billion over five years to improve public transportation options;
- $171 million over five years to support the expansion of electronic vehicle chargers;
- A minimum of $100 million to provide broadband coverage, including providing access to the at least 394,000 Pennsylvanians who lack it;
- $49 million over five years to protect against wildfires and $26 million to protect against cyber-attacks; along with a $3.5 billion in weatherization;
- $1.4 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure and ensure clean, safe drinking water; and
- $355 million for airport infrastructure improvements over the next five years.
The PA Chamber’s efforts to “Propel PA Forward” require working together and taking action in areas that will help our economy and its people rise to new heights. This is one such area and we applaud Congress and the White House for working together to make this investment a reality without tying it to the onerous social spending bill that is also being debated in Congress.
“A modern and efficient system of infrastructure is vital to recovering from the pandemic and to positioning Pennsylvania for greater investment and equality of opportunity for all of our residents,” PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr said in a statement after the U.S. House sent the measure to the president’s desk. “We applaud the bipartisan support for this important legislation … We are also pleased that this legislation moved separately from the massively irresponsible, multi-trillion, partisan reconciliation bill that contains a host of policy initiatives that would be detrimental to the long-term vitality of our state and national economy.”