Here’s how billions of dollars in infrastructure will be spent in Missouri and other Midwestern states | KCUR 89.3


Stepping on the podium at the Kansas City Area Transport Authority on Wednesday, President Joe Biden touted the passage of his infrastructure bill, as part of a tour promoting one of his administration’s main goals.

The Infrastructure Priorities Package is priced at $ 1.3 trillion and is designed to focus on a series of long-term projects for the nation.

Biden stressed the importance of re-investing in the country’s infrastructure, drawing comparisons to how spending in other countries has overtaken the United States.

“We have invested in our people, we have given opportunities,” said Biden, referring to the massive projects of the Cold War era. “We didn’t become this nation by thinking small.”

Biden also warned that the effects of climate change would make improving infrastructure more difficult. Missouri and Kansas ranked in the top 10 states with power outages, and the 2014 Joplin Tornado is a reminder that disasters can strike the center of the country.

The Kansas City metro area was already improving its infrastructure by providing free public transportation, adding a terminal at the airport, and upgrading the port. But still more is to come.

“Guess what? It’s gonna be a decade of infrastructure now, man.”

President Joe Biden

The infrastructure bill allocates funds in a series of key areas, including:

  • Replacement of lead pipes
  • Extend broadband internet access
  • Road and bridge repair
  • Improve public transportation
  • Modernization of airports and ports
  • Investing in passenger rail
  • Build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles
  • Improve the electricity grid
  • Develop more resilient infrastructures
  • Environmental investments

The bipartisan infrastructure bill was passed in November after months of negotiations with Republicans and Democrats.
A total of 19 Republican senators, including Roy Blunt of Missouri, Deb Fischer of Nebraska and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, voted for the bill.

In the House of Representatives, 13 Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill, many of whom reside in competitive districts. Several progressive Democrats voted against the bill, including Cori Bush of Missouri.

Iowa

Katarina Sostaric

Governor Kim Reynolds signed a law in April creating a broadband subsidy program.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has prioritized expanding broadband access to every Iowan. The bill provides for a minimum allocation of $ 100 million to expand coverage. According to White House documents, 16% of people in Iowa do not have an Internet service provider, but only 2.4% of people in Iowa live in a place where there is no Internet service. broadband infrastructure in place.

“Of the many lessons learned from the challenges of 2020, one of the most critical is that access to reliable high-speed internet is not a luxury; it’s just as vital to Iowa’s communities as running water and electricity, ”Reynolds said in a Release. “Iowa’s technology infrastructure begins with a robust broadband network, and its speed and reliability are critical to all aspects of the state’s future.

Reynolds’ plan includes an additional investment of $ 450 million by the state to improve access, which includes speed requirements for ISPs and public-private partnerships to subsidize broadband for low-income Iowans.

Also EPA announced more than $ 110 million that will improve water infrastructure in Iowa. the money will be used to improve the quality and access to drinking water, as well as to eliminate lead pipes.

Kansas

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Kansas will receive $ 3.8 billion in infrastructure funding based on the administration’s formula.

Representative Sharice Davids was the only member of the Kansas congressional delegation to vote for the infrastructure bill and joined the president when the measure was signed in November. His vote was supported by several leaders in Kansas City, the Kansas area, as well as the secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

“KDOT recognizes that a modern transportation system must move people, goods and technology efficiently and efficiently,” KDOT Secretary Julie Lorenz said in a statement prepared by the Davids office. “The (Bill) represents an investment in our people and a boost in our economy to help us improve the quality of life in every corner of Kansas.

When combined with Missouri, both states will receive $ 140 million to increase the number of electric vehicles chargers. While it is possible to own an EV in urban areas, the lack of charging stations in rural areas makes long journeys more difficult. challenge.

Kansas will also receive funds to protect against wildfires and cyber attacks. Extreme weather events have caused $ 20 billion in damage over the past decade.

Nebraska

Lyon-water

(Courtesy photo)

Lyon, Nebraska’s tap water has turned brown due to a missing filter bed at the wastewater treatment plant.

So far, Nebraska state leaders have yet to provide plans for how they plan to spend the state’s $ 3 billion allocated in the infrastructure bill.

Speaking at an agricultural exhibition on TuesdayGov. Pete Ricketts said the main focus will be on improving Nebraska’s roads and bridges.

The state suffered extensive damage across thousands of miles of highways during the 2019 floods, most of which were repaired.

“We actually had 10,000 miles of freeways closed at one point. Ricketts said.[We] repaired 27 bridges and really transformed them in a very short time to be able to get them back to working order. “

Discussion over the state’s roads and bridges gained momentum this week following a forum featuring Republican gubernatorial candidates.

When asked what they wanted to use the allowances for, UN Regent Jim Pillen said he didn’t want to spend the allowances. money on roads or broadband, saying they’re “not that bad”.

Ricketts is for a limited time and the primary will be in 2022.

High-speed internet access has also been an issue in the state. The bill would allocate at least $ 100 million to increase broadband coverage. The Southeastern Nebraska Development District collected statewide internet speed reports and found slower speeds in most of the state’s rural areas.

In addition, the state will receive $ 358 million over five years to improve water infrastructure. Supply chain issues have created problems for utilities providing water to small towns.

Missouri

A MetroLink train is at a station in Saint-Louis.

File photo / Carolina Hidalgo

The federal infrastructure bill could give new impetus to a long-delayed proposal to expand MetroLink south of St. Louis, north of St. Louis, and north of St. Louis County.

The Missouri Department of Transportation expects $ 9 billion from the infrastructure bill, of which $ 5 billion has already been allocated to projects. Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said the KCUR up to date in November that several interstate corridors are undergoing improvements, as well as increased investment in public transport.

These interstate corridors include:

  • Jackson County, I-70 from downtown Kansas City, Missouri to I-435
  • Lafayette County, I-70 and Missouri 131
  • Clay County, I-29 and the I-35 corridor

Several underfunded projects underway hold on by MoDOT will also get money from the infrastructure bill.

Saint Louis’ MetroLink may see expansion due to new funds. It would extend light rail service south and north to St. Louis and north to St. Louis County.

While the money is technically available now, that doesn’t mean the projects will start immediately. It will be up to states and local governments to decide precisely where to spend the money, as well as initiating the bidding process for contractors.

This story comes from Midwest Newsroom, an investigative journalism collaboration featuring KCUR 89.3, DPI, Nebraska Public Media News, Saint-Louis public radio and NPR.


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