In April and again in July, I wrote about the incredible opportunity to significantly upgrade our navigation, hydropower and flood risk reduction infrastructure via the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Well, I’ve been keeping a close eye on the plan as it moves from talking points and fact sheets to actual legislation, and I’m happy to report it has passed and was signed into law by the President on November 15th. As a result, the architecture-engineering-construction industry will be extremely busy over the next five plus years.
This bill was a bipartisan $1.2 trillion. The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) prepared a Special Report on Infrastructure Scenarios that provides valuable information regarding the impact the bipartisan plan and other scenarios could have on the engineering and design services industry. You can read the entire 2702 page bill at: H.R.3684, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Out of $1.2 trillion, the bill includes $550 billion in new spending, including:
- $110 billion for roads, bridges, and safety
- $39 billion for public transit
- $66 billion for passenger and freight rail
- $25 billion for airports
- $73 billion for electrical grid and power infrastructure
- $65 billion for high-speed internet
- $15 billion for electric vehicles
- $17 billion for ports and harbors
- $55 billion for water systems and infrastructure
- $50 billion for Western water storage
- $21 billion for environmental remediation projects
As the leader of a fifty-person water resources group focused on dams, hydropower, flood control and water infrastructure, I’m especially interested in those elements in the legislation. With regard to dams and hydropower, the news is somewhat disappointing. The bill contains approximately $800 million each for the three Rs—rehabilitate, retrofit (new hydro), and remove. $2.4 billion out of $1.2 trillion is small, but is more than what has been funded in the past. Additionally, there is $17 billion in funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Much of this will be for dams, flood protection, and navigation, and is broken out as follows:
- $150 million for investigations
- $11.6 billion for construction, including:
- $1.5 billion for major rehabilitation and construction for rivers and harbors
- $2.5 billion for inland waterway projects including locks and dams
- $465 million for Section 14, Flood Control Act of 1946 work
- $2.02 billion for aquatic ecosystem restoration
- $2.55 billion for coastal storm risk management
- $2.5 billion for inland flood risk management
- $808 million under the Mississippi River and Tributaries
- $4 billion for Operations & Maintenance, with $2 billion available in Fiscal Year 2022 and $1 billion each in Fiscal Year 2023 and Fiscal Year 2024.
Additionally, the legislation authorizes $8.3 billion for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) for water projects, including dams, storage, and conveyance. Finally, Title IX – Western Water Infrastructure of the legislation provides $40 billion over a period of five years for water infrastructure, including dams, storage, and conveyance.
Now that the President has signed the legislation, there is a lot of work to do, and several months before we see actual funding for projects. Nonetheless, we are beginning the revitalization of America’s infrastructure. I encourage all of you to review the legislation and determine what programs you can support. Since much of the water, wastewater, and resilience funding will be funded through Federal grants to states and communities, those entities will need help to prepare their grant requests. If we work together, I remain hopeful for our nation’s infrastructure.