An updated version of the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Act will likely advance due to controversial aspects of the act now being left out.
The central, popular provisions have the president’s congressional supporters, as well as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, remaining hopeful for the act’s overall success.
“That’s what is still working its way through Capitol Hill,” Buttigieg said. “I’m very hopeful that this will pass in some form because it’s going to make a big difference for American lives.”
A major landmark of Biden’s plan is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and its $1 trillion infrastructure bill to help revamp deteriorating roadways, repair bridges, and boost freight flow with updates to railways and other aspects of the nation’s supply chain necessities.
“Automated technology on locomotives, such as [positive train control] or trip [optimizers], are the foundation for future innovation,” said Association of American Railroads CEO, Ian Jeffries. “Such systems promise to further improve safety and efficiency, maybe even expanding rail capacity and its ability to move more goods without new network buildout.”
Additionally, $27 billion will be allocated toward repairing more than 15,000 bridges, noted infrastructure implementation coordinator Mitch Landrieu, making it “the largest bridge program in American history.”
“Bridges connect us,” he said. “They connect people [and] the movement of goods. They connect communities. They connect the country. With this investment, President Biden is creating a bridge to the future, a pathway to win–a pathway for all of us to win.”
The $27 billion will be part of a multiyear bridge-fixing process, working to improve deficient infrastructure in an effort to bring mass improvements to overall transportation connectivity.
“The bipartisan infrastructure law I signed two months ago unites us around things we all depend on,” explained President Biden. “When we invest in infrastructure, we’re really investing in opportunity. These are investments that will build a better America. It sounds like hyperbole, but it’s real.”
This bridge funding will also bring relief to a vast amount of supply chain bottlenecks, Buttigieg added.
“We know that when the bridges are in good shape, they help people to get to where they need to be more safely, more efficiently, more affordably–and I would note that strengthens our supply chains, gets groceries to where they need to be, and keeps prices lower,” he said.
Billions in new funding is going to increase freight connectivity capability in regards to the supply chain, as well as boost overall mobility and trucking workforce initiatives, noted Polly Trottenberg, deputy to Buttigieg.
“I think we’re really going to be able to strengthen and make more resilient and more sustainable all the elements of our supply chain,” she said “I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the focus that the administration is putting on [the] supply chain.”
As the infrastructure bill moves towards implementation, the U.S. Department of Transportation is working to ensure DOT officials are staying as organized as ever, Trottenberg added.
“We’re working with our stakeholders so that when we send out our notices of funding opportunity or our guidances…we’ve heard from all the people,” she explained. “And that’s a lot of upfront work…so we’ve got to hit the ground running. We’ve got to go the distance. I guess you’d describe it [as] both a sprint and a marathon.”
As these infrastructure-improving projects begin making their way across the country, Levinson and Stefani’s Ken Levinson hopes they will bring the lasting changes the country needs to finally boost overall roadway safety.
“I’m all for reconstruction that will save lives, and I absolutely hope these improvements come to fruition because it’s been so long that deteriorating roads have been causing problems for drivers,” he said. “Many of the bridges and highways have needed repair for a long time–it’s long overdue.”
Still, Levinson wants to ensure that all drivers are staying as alert and cautious as ever when encountering any area under construction.
“A lot of crashes occur in construction zones or on roads and bridges in disrepair–they can all easily cause collisions,” he explained. “Be cautious in any construction zone. There will be signage, but many people aren’t paying close enough attention, or are distracted or tired, and won’t see an upcoming merge, marker, or road change. It’s easy to drive habitually and not notice, say, a lane change.”