SAN ANTONIO – A windfall of funding is expected to come to Texas as part of the new federal infrastructure bill President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law on Monday.
From roads and bridges to transit to electric vehicles, the bill’s supporters say it could have a transformative effect on infrastructure in Texas and across the country. The White House estimates that more than $30 billion in funding will be allocated to Texas alone.
“The infrastructure bill is a big deal for San Antonio and for Texas,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, earlier this week. “I’m expecting that there’s going to be hundreds of millions of dollars, if not over a billion dollars, that will come to this region because of this bill.”
The Texas Department of Transportation did not specify where that money would be spent just yet but indicated it could help accelerate some projects.
“The infrastructure bill passed by Congress will help address transportation needs in Texas as the state could receive nearly $1 billion per year of additional funding for project development, construction and improvements to our roads and bridges over the next 5 years,” an agency spokesman wrote in a statement. “The bill also includes additional funding for public transit, aviation and passenger rail. While we do not specifically know which projects will get the additional funding yet, it’s likely we could move forward projects already in various phases of development in our ten-year planning document (Unified Transportation Program). With our state’s population booming, funding for transportation is as vital as ever.”
Some supporters of the bill welcome the added spending but say it should focus on maintaining and upgrading crumbling infrastructure rather than building new roads.
“The wear and tear on the roads gets worse, meaning we’ve got more maintenance and repair issues down the line,” said Matt Casale, environmental campaigns director for the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “So actually spending that money to build out more roads is not the most productive way to do this. We should be repairing the roads and bridges that we already have, making them safer, making them work better for people.”
Casale said the bill could also mean $3 billion for transit in Texas. It could be a gamechanger for agencies like VIA Metropolitan Transit, which is underfunded compared to its peers.
“So getting this additional capital funding is going to be huge. Of course, they’ll also need additional operating funding, right, which this does not provide,” he said. “And so in order to maintain that service and really run with that service, we need to figure out sustainable options.”
Supporters also tout some clean energy investments in the bill, including billions in funding for a network of electric vehicle charging stations. Areas can also apply for grants to help with converting transit buses and school buses from diesel to electric.
Have questions about transportation or traffic? Let us know, and your answer may be our next story. Find past answers on our traffic page.