In 2021, President Biden signed the historic $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, delivering on a key piece of his economic agenda. Since then, billions of dollars have been funneled into all 50 states in order to upgrade highways, transit systems, water systems, and more.
In Iowa, $2.4 billion in funding has been announced so far, and more is on the way. Here’s a look at the work that’s being done in the Hawkeye State and how it helps Iowans.
Roads, Bridges, and Public Transit
In Iowa, there are 4,571 bridges and over 403 miles of highway in poor condition. Over $1 billion in funding from the law has been allocated to Iowa roads, bridges, roadway safety, and other major projects as of March. This includes $1.3 billion in highway formula funding and $186.8 million in dedicated formula funding for bridges in 2022 and 2023.
It’s estimated that Iowa’s deteriorated roads and bridges cost drivers a total of $935 million per year in extra vehicle operating costs.
One effort aimed at improving Iowa’s roads and bridges is the RAISE program, which awards grants to improve freight and passenger travel. So far, $24.8 million has been awarded in Iowa through this program.
One project receiving some of that funding is the La Porte Road Revitalization. The city of Waterloo was awarded $20.5 million to complete street improvement along a nearly three-mile stretch of La Porte Road. Sidewalks, bicycle trails, lighting, transit benches and platforms, and a bus shelter will be added to the corridor. In addition to improving safety for people who walk, bike, and drive along the corridor, the project will “complete a network of local bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and promote transit access to Waterloo’s downtown business and medical centers,” according to the White House.
Iowa has also been allocated $60.4 million to improve public transportation options across the state in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Currently, over a third of the public transit vehicles in the state are past useful life.
Clean Buses, Energy, and Power
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is also set to invest billions of dollars into clean public transit and school buses over the next five years. Half of that money will be used to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models.
To date, Iowa has been awarded $11.1 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program, which provides school districts rebates to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models to reduce harmful emissions from older buses. Thirteen school districts in Iowa received grants thanks to the program, including the Albert City-Truesdale Community School District, the Central Lee Community School District, and the West Sioux Community School District.
The Iowa Department of Transportation, along with other public transit entities in the state, were also separately awarded $4.9 million to improve bus service and clean transit buses through the Department of Transportation’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program.
The infrastructure law is also set to upgrade the power infrastructure by “making the grid more resilient and building thousands of miles of new transmission lines to deliver clean, affordable electricity.” There’s additional funding to weatherize homes to improve their energy efficiency. This would lower energy costs for impacted households by an average of $372 per year, according to the US Department of Energy.
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
To date, Iowa has received approximately $51.6 million for replacing and modernizing airport infrastructure at airports, including the Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, and Washington area airports.
The state’s ports and waterways are also in dire need of investment. Roughly $360.5 million has been allocated to Iowa so far so that the state can address maintenance backlogs and reduce congestion and emissions near ports, such as the Port of Dubuque. Ultimately, this will help the U.S. move goods more quickly, at a lower cost.
There’s no arguing that clean drinking water is essential. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including the first-ever dedicated federal funding to replace lead service lines and address dangerous PFAS chemicals, according to the White House.
As of March, $132 million in funds have been allocated for Iowa to provide residents with clean and safe drinking water through the Environmental Protection Agency.
Over a third of these funds are going towards lead pipe and service line replacement throughout the state. According to the National Resources Defense Council, there are roughly 160,000 lead service lines in the state of Iowa.
Another $28.5 million will go towards safe drinking water investments.
Under Biden’s infrastructure law, Iowa will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help ensure high-speed internet access across the state.
Experts also estimate that 482,000 households in Iowa are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), although only 89,566 households are enrolled so far. This program cuts internet bills by up to $30 per month, or $75 for households on tribal lands. It also provides a one-time $100 discount off a connected device.
In addition to the above measures, the Biden administration is working with internet providers to offer high-speed internet plans that are fully covered by the ACP. This means that most eligible households in Iowa would be able to get high-speed internet for free.
Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a way of life for many Americans. While just 7% of U.S. adults say they currently own an electric or hybrid vehicle, according to the Pew Research Center, about 39% of Americans say that the next time they purchase a vehicle, they are at least somewhat likely to seriously consider electric.
The infrastructure law has so far allocated $18.5 million in 2022 and 2023 to Iowa to build out a network of EV chargers across the state. Reducing gas emissions by transitioning to EVs is crucial to addressing the climate crisis, and that transition will create a crucial supply of new domestic manufacturing jobs, according to the White House.
Iowa can also expect to receive roughly $51 million over five years to support the expansion of electric vehicle charging.
Resilience and Legacy Pollution Cleanup
More broadly, one of the main aims of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is to address the climate crisis. Thousands of former industrial, chemical, and energy sites emit harmful pollutants into surrounding communities across the country and disproportionately impact communities of color.
The infrastructure law is set to reclaim abandoned mines, cap orphaned oil and gas wells, and clean up Superfund sites, which are areas that have been contaminated by hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed.
As of March, 12 sites in Iowa were listed on the Superfund National Priority List, although none of them have received any funding from the infrastructure law yet.
To date, Iowa has been allocated approximately $70.9 million for improving “infrastructure resilience.” This investment will help the state work against pressing challenges like the impacts of climate change, extreme weather events, and more.
by Isabel Soisson
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