SAN ANTONIO – The U.S. House of Representatives passed a new infrastructure funding bill on Thursday, but it is still a long way from becoming law.
The $715 billion INVEST Act focuses on repairing roads and bridges, along with transit and rail systems. There’s also funding for water infrastructure.
The bill does not include a funding mechanism, and that caused most Republicans to oppose it. Nevertheless, some Texas officials hope a version of the bill clears Congress, because it could provide a major boost in potential funding for improvement projects.
“If this is enacted, TxDOT could see almost $8 billion more than we received over the last five years in the FAST Act, so that’s worth watching,” said Bruce Bugg, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. “I want to call out to our Texas delegation in Washington to please support passage of this.”
The FAST Act is the infrastructure funding plan passed during the Obama administration. Congress passed a year-long extension last October.
One local project that could be funded under the current version of the legislation is the Zarzamora-Frio City Road rail overpass safety project on San Antonio’s West Side. The $15 million project would build a new overpass over the railroad tracks, cutting down on travel delays and potentially improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Investing in the Zarzamora overpass will significantly improve safety and mobility at a busy city intersection and improve quality of life on the west side of San Antonio, as well as start to address decades of disparity by re-connecting vibrant residential neighborhoods and strengthening the economic competitiveness of local businesses,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, in a statement.
House Democrats hope the bill can be used as a framework to start negotiations with the Senate and the White House. President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators reached a deal last week on top-line priorities, but many details remain unclear.
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