Senate Tries to Smooth Out Snags in $1.2T Infrastructure Law

November 30, 2022 by Tom Ramstack
Senate Tries to Smooth Out Snags in $1.2T Infrastructure Law
The Senate Chamber.

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee tried to tweak the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law Wednesday to make sure the government is getting a good deal with its record investment to boost the economy.

The five-year program won wide approval during the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing but also cautionary comments about the need to act promptly to resolve potential obstacles.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that there are a number of things that need to be fixed,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the committee’s chairman.

Congress approved the bipartisan infrastructure law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, one year ago as a signature piece of the Biden administration’s plan to invigorate the nation’s economy.


Funding in the appropriations law is heavily concentrated in building or renovating transportation systems, such as highways, bridges, public transit and railroads. Other provisions are directed at strengthening the electrical power grid with clean energy facilities, expanding broadband internet access and installing more electrical vehicle charging stations.

Since last November, about 29,000 transportation improvement projects have been funded under the law, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. The number of government-funded projects worth more than $100 million increased from 18 to 24.

In the past six weeks, the federal government announced $759 million in high-speed internet infrastructure projects.

The systems are being built through a network of private contractors. 

“The private sector will benefit tremendously from these new opportunities,” Carper said.

In addition to the builders, manufacturers who make the materials they use and their labor force also will prosper, he said.


One of the biggest problems builders face is the inflation that is driving up their material, fuel and labor costs while reducing the buying power of the government’s money, according to contractors who testified at the Senate hearing. The U.S. inflation rate stood at 7.7% in October.

“There is no denying the elephant in the room,” Dave Bauer, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, said about inflation.

Gasoline prices are up from an average of $2.69 a gallon in 2019 to $3.80 this month, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The construction industry reports that cement prices rose as much as 40% in the past two-and-a-half years. Asphalt costs 76% more than two years ago.

Republican and Democrat arguments about who should be blamed for inflation continued during the Senate hearing. Lawmakers also differ on the solution.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said that although the bipartisan infrastructure law is well-intended, the “free money” it allocates to states and contractors is adding to inflation. 

He suggested “trying to fix inflation by fixing the supply chains.” He was referring to a lack of adequate U.S. manufacturing to serve contractors with the materials they need.

In addition, Gary W. Johnson, a vice president of Watsonville, Calif.-based Granite Construction Co., said, “confusing and conflicting guidance” from state and federal regulators sometimes creates confusion about how contractors should fulfill their government contract duties.

“It’s difficult at times to get state agencies and federal agencies to work together,” Johnson said.


He suggested that government grants include flexibility provisions to give contractors more discretion on how to complete projects based on conditions that differ between sites.

Tom can be reached at [email protected] and @TomRamstack

A+
a-

Infrastructure

December 6, 2022
by Dan McCue
Charleston, SC, Now Boasts East Coast’s Deepest Harbor

CHARLESTON, S.C. — With the successful completion of a $580 million harbor-deepening project, Charleston Harbor is now the deepest harbor... Read More

CHARLESTON, S.C. — With the successful completion of a $580 million harbor-deepening project, Charleston Harbor is now the deepest harbor on the U.S. East Coast at 52 feet. The new depth means the biggest cargo ships currently in service can now access the state’s port terminals... Read More

December 5, 2022
by Dan McCue
Landrieu Evangelizes, Issues Call to Action on Infrastructure at NewDEAL Meeting

WASHINGTON — Mitch Landrieu could hardly contain himself as he waited to address the NewDEAL Leaders 12th annual conference last... Read More

WASHINGTON — Mitch Landrieu could hardly contain himself as he waited to address the NewDEAL Leaders 12th annual conference last Friday. Bouncing on his heels, the senior advisor to President Joe Biden and the man responsible for implementing the sweeping bipartisan infrastructure law, greeted a steady... Read More

November 30, 2022
by Tom Ramstack
Senate Tries to Smooth Out Snags in $1.2T Infrastructure Law

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee tried to tweak the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law Wednesday to make sure the government... Read More

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee tried to tweak the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law Wednesday to make sure the government is getting a good deal with its record investment to boost the economy. The five-year program won wide approval during the Senate Environment and Public Works... Read More

November 7, 2022
by Dan McCue
Construction Costs for Utility-Scale Solar Fell 8% in 2020, New Report Says

WASHINGTON — The average construction cost for utility-scale photovoltaic solar installations continued to drop in 2020, according to a new... Read More

WASHINGTON — The average construction cost for utility-scale photovoltaic solar installations continued to drop in 2020, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. While that’s good news for the energy sector, the report noted that the construction costs for onshore wind and... Read More

Poor, Less White Areas Get Worst Internet Deals

A couple of years into the pandemic, Shirley Neville had finally had enough of her shoddy internet service. “It was... Read More

A couple of years into the pandemic, Shirley Neville had finally had enough of her shoddy internet service. “It was just a headache,” said Neville, who lives in a middle-class neighborhood in New Orleans whose residents are almost all Black or Latino. “When I was getting... Read More

October 10, 2022
by Dan McCue
As Gas Tax Revenue Shrinks, More States Consider Mileage Tax on EVs

WASHINGTON — As revenue from gas taxes declines with the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles, more states are... Read More

WASHINGTON — As revenue from gas taxes declines with the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles, more states are considering charging fees based on miles driven to cover maintenance costs for roads and bridges, according to a new Stateline report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top