WBJ: Congress must pass the infrastructure bill
As originally appearing in Worcester Business Journal

By James T. Brett

With billions of dollars of federal relief authorized over the past 18 months, and more Americans receiving vaccinations each day, our economy is gradually inching closer to recovery. However, there is more left to do. The New England Council believes passing a robust infrastructure package will help meet numerous and often long-standing unmet demands, and will help our region’s businesses remain competitive and our residents to thrive.

As New Englanders, we know all too well the infrastructure challenges our region faces. Too many of our bridges are structurally deficient and yearly increases in the number of vehicles and drivers has put more stress on our roadways. A growing number of residents across our region are looking to transit to provide a safe, affordable, and reliable means of transportation. Besides the need to meet new requirements for a growing region, our aging water systems – some approaching or surpassing a century old – need attention. And the pandemic has shown that broadband is a critical need for New England to expand telework, telehealth, and remote learning options.

Just months ago, a bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden agreed upon a bold infrastructure framework. This five-year deal would fund traditional infrastructure: roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports & airports, and water systems. In addition, the deal called for new infrastructure spending, which would be allocated toward an expanded list of core infrastructure such as broadband, resiliency, and electric vehicle networks.

The hard work of the U.S. Senate paid off: On Aug. 10, this legislation – the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – was adopted by a bipartisan vote of 69 to 30. Every senator from New England voted in favor. Now, the bill is before the U.S. House of Representatives, and a vote on the proposal is slated before the end of this month.

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