The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday December 6th

Editorial: What the new infrastructure bill means for North Carolina

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in Detroit. Biden was in town to tout the benefits of the infrastructure bill he signed two days ago that allocates $1 trillion for, among other things, adding electric vehicle charging stations around the country as companies like GM retool away from the internal combustion engine.  Photo courtesy of Nic Antaya/Getty Images/TNS.
Buy Photos U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the General Motors Factory ZERO electric vehicle assembly plant on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in Detroit. Biden was in town to tout the benefits of the infrastructure bill he signed two days ago that allocates $1 trillion for, among other things, adding electric vehicle charging stations around the country as companies like GM retool away from the internal combustion engine. Photo courtesy of Nic Antaya/Getty Images/TNS.

On Nov. 15, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, into law. Lawmakers praised the bill for investing money into roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways. 

According to White House officials, the bill will supply North Carolina with almost $9 billion in infrastructure spending, and the state could potentially apply for billions more.

The Biden administration said, “For decades, infrastructure in North Carolina has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will make life better for millions of North Carolina residents, create a generation of good-paying union jobs and economic growth and position the United States to win the 21st century.” 

The Federal Transportation Administration has provided early projections of what the funding allocation in North Carolina would look like.

Transit Development

The state could expect around $457 million for bridge replacement and repairs during the next five years. According to the White House, North Carolina has 1,460 bridges and more than 3,100 miles of highways considered to be in poor condition. 

One exciting development for the state could be the addition of another interstate to the so-called “Carolina Core.” 

Business and civic leaders are partnering with local, state and federal officials to designate part of the existing Highway U.S. 421 as a future interstate to further spur economic growth and make the region more competitive on a global stage. This effort will create the future I-685 interstate running along at least seven counties. 

North Carolina could receive about $910 million over the next five years to improve public transportation. This is especially important in reducing commuting times, especially for minorities who tend to use public transportation at a higher rate.

The Biden administration said that “North Carolinians who take public transportation spend an extra 59.9 percent of their time commuting and non-white households are 3.4 times more likely to commute via public transportation.”

15 percent of North Carolina public transit vehicles such as city buses are past their useful life. 

National internet access

One of the major goals of the large infrastructure bill was a prioritization to expand broadband internet access to everyone in the United States. 

According to the FCC, broadband or high-speed Internet access allows users to access the Internet and Internet-related services at significantly higher speeds than those available through "dial-up" services.

According to the White House, about 14 percent of households in the state do not subscribe to high-speed internet services and 4 percent don’t have access to broadband at all.

The pandemic has demonstrated the need for reliable internet connections to stay in tune with everyday life. 

The Biden administration echoed this sentiment by stating, “Broadband internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care and to stay connected.”

The current bill would expand broadband access to the 424,000 people in the state who don’t have it. North Carolina should also expect $109 million towards developing electric vehicle infrastructure.

Already, state officials have touted the impact the bill will have on improving the state.

Kinston Mayor Don Hardy commented on the impact the bill will have on his city. “For towns like Kinston, the bipartisan infrastructure deal will have an incredible impact on us,” Hardy said. “The big issue for Kinston is safeguarding our infrastructure against future extreme weather events. It’s no secret that heavy rains, hurricanes, and flood events have been occurring more frequently with more intensity than they did a generation ago.”

Republican Sen. Thom Tillis also praised the bill's impact saying, “This bipartisan infrastructure bill is a big win for all North Carolinians, funding infrastructure projects and creating good-paying jobs without raising taxes." 

The infrastructure bill is a massive success for North Carolinians: The bill makes critical investments into the state which will stimulate economic growth and improve our overall quality of life.

@dthopinion

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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