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Congress approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. How much will Idaho get?

Idaho

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BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — A $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure package passed by Congress last week will guarantee Idaho more than $2.5 billion over the next five years to upgrade the state’s roadways, bridges, pipes, as well as broadband network and public transit system.

The legislation awaits only President Joe Biden’s signature to greenlight what was a key campaign promise and focal point of the Democratic administration’s economic agenda in his first year in office. Proponents call the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act a generational infusion of funds into the nation’s deteriorating infrastructure after years of deferred maintenance — the largest such expense in decades.

“Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation,” Biden said in a statement after the bill passed the U.S. House. “Generations from now, people will look back and know this is when America won the economic competition for the 21st century.”

HOW IDAHO’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATES VOTED ON THE INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE

The bill passed both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support, with the House backing it by a 228-206 vote, including 13 Republicans — securing a victory for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California. The Senate previously passed it in August with a bipartisan 69-30 vote, including both Idaho Republicans, U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

“The bipartisan legislation we passed today makes investments in traditional, hard infrastructure projects to help keep pace with Idaho’s rapid growth,” Crapo said in an August statement, highlighting the direct benefits to the Gem State.

U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, both voted against the infrastructure bill.

As recently as June, Simpson signaled possible support for the bill, and negotiated to include five Idaho projects that totaled nearly $17 million in the bill. Fulcher did not pursue the federal earmarks process.

“I strongly support investing in our nation’s infrastructure needs and have said for years that the country is long overdue for a major investment in our crumbling roads and bridges,” Simpson said in a statement. “The last few months have unfortunately revealed that this bill is simply a political carrot aimed at uniting the left to pass the Biden/Pelosi multi-trillion dollar socialist wish list.”

Ultimately, both Simpson and Fulcher cited concerns over the lack of collaboration from the Democratically controlled government with House Republicans, and disdain for Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending bill. Democratic leaders initially intended to vote on both packages at once.

“The outrageous spending while we are facing a historic debt and deficits is enough to lose my support,” Fulcher said in a statement. “This infrastructure bill is a bargaining chip, paving the way for later passage of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan — aka the largest expansion of government in our country’s history.”

PACKAGE INCLUDES INVESTMENTS IN STATE’S TRANSIT, ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Included among the five projects specific to Idaho is $2 million toward improvements along Valley Regional Transit’s State Street bus route. Along with contributions from Boise and other cities, the funds will be spent on constructing passenger shelters and bus pullouts, and installing real-time electronic route information at stops throughout the 11-mile stretch.

“VRT is very excited to see the infrastructure bill get passed,” Kelli Badesheim, Valley Regional Transit’s executive director, said in a statement to the Idaho Statesman. “We have also been working closely with local jurisdiction partners to secure the needed match required to activate these funds to support the transit needs of our region.”

Based on a disbursement formula, the nation’s public transit service providers also anticipate an average increase of 43% in funds toward operations and capital needs through federal programs, she said.

The other four Idaho projects for which Simpson helped ensure funds include road and bridge improvements in Ammon, Fort Hall, McCammon and Pocatello. Ammon will benefit from roughly $5.4 million for widening and full reconstruction of 1-mile segment of First Street, while Pocatello will see $4.3 million to build a pedestrian bridge across Center Street, including repair of sidewalks, retaining walls and stormwater drainage.

Matt Stoll, executive director of COMPASS, the region’s transportation planning agency, also applauded passage of the federal infrastructure package. He said the bill provides the agency with some funding security to budget in the coming years, as well as compete for national grants to fund priority projects.

“Passage of the five-year bill will allow us to budget and plan through fiscal year 2026 with some certainty of funding levels,” he told the Statesman by email.

The bill also designated billions of dollars to counter the harmful impacts of the nation’s wildfires, as well as funds to combat the effects of climate change.

In addition, Idaho is slated to receive $30 million toward expansion of the state’s electric vehicle charging network, an effort to reduce automobile emissions. Vehicles account for the largest percentage of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere by the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Thanking Crapo and Risch for supporting the bill, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said the five-year federal investment in infrastructure, with carve-outs for climate action, will help the city achieve its lofty goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

“While this soon-to-be law helps connect us and protects our open spaces, air, and water, it also helps bring more sustainable jobs now and well into the future,” McLean said in a statement to the Statesman. “That’s been one of my goals since I took office, and I am encouraged that the bipartisan infrastructure deal will help us create a resilient and green economy.”

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