SAN ANTONIO – This week, the U.S. Senate passed a massive infrastructure bill, but there’s still a long way to go before the final plans are set. In the meantime, White House officials are touting the benefits of the plan for Texas.
“There’s going to be more than $20 billion that’s going to be invested in Texas alone for the highways and more than $500 million for the bridges,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy press secretary of the White House.
The federal funding could not come soon enough for local officials. While a lot of projects are underway, many others are on hold because the money just isn’t there yet.
“Every dollar that we can get in mobility for our city is a dollar well spent,” said Melissa Cabello Harvda, councilwoman for District 6. “Everybody uses the roads. They walk. They use our bus system. They use our bike trails.”
She is the current vice-chair, and incoming chair, of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Policy Board. The MPO distributes transportation funding in our region. Officials have said if more federal funding becomes available, they will seek input from local agencies about which projects should receive funding.
Jean-Pierre told KSAT that the funding for Texas is not just restricted to roads and bridges. There will also be $3 billion in transit and $408 million to boost an electric vehicle charging network across the state.
“It’s important to have. That critical infrastructure helps us as a country, as a whole, to be competitive,” she said. “At the same time, we need to modernize. If you think about our public transit system, we have to make sure that those things are modernized in a way that it deals with climate change as well.”
While there was bipartisan support for the plan in the U.S. Senate, both senators from Texas voted against the bill. Sen. John Cornyn said while Texas “stands to benefit” from the bill, he had concerns about the process to develop the legislation.
“From the get-go I made clear I had concerns with the lack of committee consideration of this bill along with the opportunity for Senators to improve the bill at that stage of deliberations and the failure to fully pay for it,” Cornyn said in a statement. “Despite this, I kept an open mind throughout the process and offered an amendment to give Texas leaders the flexibility to redirect excess COVID relief funds for infrastructure.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has a $1.2 trillion price tag. Many democrats are touting the larger $3 trillion plan that includes more spending to address climate change, as well other priorities, like early childhood care.
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