SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — After months of debate, President Biden signed into law a 1.2 trillion dollar bipartisan infrastructure package on Monday that becomes the largest investment in public transit in American history.
It’s also the most money dedicated to work on bridges since the introduction of the interstate highway system.
The next step is for this federal aid to be passed down to individual states where they can decide what communities need the most allocated. Stuart Anderson of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) explained why investing in a solid road system is so crucial for an agricultural state.
“That supports that mile-grid road system that’s again is so important for farmers to get their products efficiently to market. The challenge is that there’s a cost then to maintain all those roads and bridges and in Iowa, we have about 4,500 bridges that are in poor condition,” said Anderson.
Out of the three states in Siouxland, Iowa is estimated to receive the most funds for bridge repairs with $432 million and more than $3 billion in highway renovation. As for Nebraska and South Dakota, roughly $2 and $1.9 billion have been set aside, respectively, for highway repairs, and $225 million for bridge work in both states.
Anderson said the federal funds will be spread out over a five-year span.
“The big difference is that the funding levels are higher than they were before and the first year of this infrastructure bill, we’re expecting to see funding for highways and bridges to grow about 25% over the funding level we saw in federal fiscal year ’21,” said Anderson.
Representative Cindy Axne was the only Iowa delegate to vote for approving the bill. Senator Joni Ernst said Democrats need to be focused on current issues such as rising inflation.
“I think the Democrats have moved so far away from understanding the needs of the people in our communties. They need to re-focus on what’s really important right now,” said Ernst.
Anderson said his office will use already existing programs, like SIMPCO in Sioux City, to determine what projects and plans will have first priority to the increased DOT spending.