The gigantic federal infrastructure bill, which finally passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Biden, is going to provide enormous benefits, transforming our community and our state.

While the total size of the spending plan is $1.2 trillion, much of that is renewal of existing spending programs. But the new money in the bill is about $550 billion over the next five years. Think about that for a moment.

That is a lot of cash. It is going to buy a lot of concrete and steel, and a lot of electrical wire and broadband. It is going to allow Maryland and other states to speed up a lot of long-planned, long-overdue projects. It promises to make transportation safer and smoother.

Our state will get nearly $8 billion. The Capital News Service reported Maryland’s funds are expected to include:

• $4.1 billion for highway projects over five years.

• $1.7 billion for revitalizing almost a quarter of aging public transportation vehicles, and over $150 million to the Washington Metro Transit Authority to improve safety and make repairs over eight years.

• $844 million for improving water systems.

• $238 million to continue the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay over five years.

• $409 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.

• $200 million for expanding broadband coverage. This includes providing internet access to at least 148,000 Marylanders, most in rural areas, who do not have such service.

• $158 million for airport improvements over five years.

• $63 million for the expansion of an electric vehicle charging network over five years, to encourage the switch to electric vehicles.

The spending will generate “huge numbers” of new jobs in Maryland, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) told the news service.

“The job estimates that I’ve seen are in the hundreds of thousands,” he added.

Our country’s crumbling highways and bridges have been a national embarrassment for decades. Political leaders seemingly have talked about the need to upgrade roads, rails, seaports and airports forever, but it has been 40 years since the country last made a serious effort to address the problem.

In 2020, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Maryland a C grade on its Infrastructure Report Card, up slightly from the C-minus we received in 2011.

President Trump’s promise to spend $1 trillion to rebuild our infrastructure was a centerpiece of his successful 2016 campaign. But he could never get Congress to go along, even when Republicans controlled both houses.

President Biden was widely mocked during the summer and early fall as he struggled to win Republican support and hold together the Democratic party. It is often said that law making, like sausage making, is not a pretty process to watch. But Biden is ending his first year in office with a monumental victory.

All Maryland’s Democratic congressmen voted in support of the bill, but Rep. Andy Harris, the only Republican in the delegation, opposed the measure. The day after the vote in the House, he tweeted: “Yesterday’s infrastructure bill added hundreds of billions of dollars to the federal debt. We have to stop spending our children and grandchildren’s money.”

That is deeply disappointing. Is Harris saying the government should never spend money on infrastructure, or is he saying he would support a tax increase to pay for it? Doubtful. It is just posturing.

We are pleased that 19 Republicans voted for the bill in the Senate and 13 supported it in the House. Those men and women put country before party, and they should be praised. Instead, they are getting vilified by the right-wing.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan knows what side of the issue he is on. Not only did he support the bill, he attended the signing ceremony with Biden at the White House.

“It truly is a bipartisan bill on something people have been talking about fixing for decades,” he said earlier. “This is going to help us get to some of the projects we had not yet been able to do.”

Once again, Hogan is right. This bill will improve the lives of Marylanders. It is a good day.

(22) comments

eak1969123

The law also has the DOT setting up a system that will charge motorist by the mile to drive. So in addition to paying to use highways your taxes paid to build, the government will know when, where and how often you drive to places. And of course, lower and fixed income folks will be the ones most impacted. Often the example of hardship is deciding between buying food or medicine. Now we add selective driving.

TomWheatley

Gas tax in Maryland is 36.1 cents per gallon and 15 highest in the Nation. California is highest at 67 cents/gallon. At 20K miles and 25 mpg, that comes to $288.80 per year. Compare that cost to having another Federal agency collecting data on the whereabouts of every car at any given time. Of course, that data would only be used for tax purposes, right?

One could forgo the gas tax and simply get the odometer reading on every car, gas, hybrid, and electric, and charge the resultant 'gas tax' at re-registration. Or add a line on the Maryland income tax form.

https://taxfoundation.org/state-gas-tax-rates-2021/

MD1756

"$1.7 billion for revitalizing almost a quarter of aging public transportation vehicles, and over $150 million to the Washington Metro Transit Authority to improve safety and make repairs over eight years." Why aren't DC, MD and VA doing what they need to fund the routine infrastructure on a regular basis? It shouldn't be a once in a generation investment, that's just plain stupid. It's also stupid to expand programs (i.e., social programs) when we aren't properly maintaining needed infrastructure.

"$844 million for improving water systems." Again why isn't this figured into the rate users pay and developers pay to develop and add to the burden? Why should the federal government fund state and local projects when there are plenty of federal facilities, structures, etc. that need proper maintenance and upgrading to handle our ever increasing population?

"$238 million to continue the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay over five years." Why should the federal government pay when states like Maryland aren't holding the polluters accountable. For example see: https://environmentalintegrity.org/news-media/environmental-integrity-podcast/ where "...four total facilities, out of the 153 that failed inspections – were ever penalized by the state for breaking the terms of their pollution control permits...."

If you choose to live in a rural area, there are trade-offs. High speed DSL is an option and can achieve speeds that match the lower end of the broadband service. Why should tax payers fund the expansion so the telecom companies can reap the profit? Require the companies to fund the coverage and allow them to set the rates to recover the expenses.

phydeaux994

When you can offer some ideas to rectify the issues you mention, come back to see us.

MD1756

[rolleyes]

MD1756

I have offered suggestions in the past I can't help it if didn't read them or follow the links I provided for some of the resources out there. It shouldn't be hard concept to understand to get people and governments to generally pay their own way. Getting handout from other parts of the country when you have no accountability to them is not the solution (even though it is the current practice) because it leads to inefficient and potentially ineffective expenditure of limited resources. Try using that organ above your shoulders for once instead of trying to insult, be condescending or bait others.

jsklinelga

ND 1745

Had an earlier comment cut short, It costs about $650.00 a year to drive over 13,000 miles. It only takes 15 minutes to charge a Telsa away from home. That last 200 miles and cost about $13.00 (at home price) The monetary incentive is there to go electric. Especially if your green minded. And cost a coming down..

Why is the free market not building the charging stations. There is money to be made. Big bucks and it would not cost any tax dollars. Just the opposite. It would generate tax revenue. Why is not Sheetz, Wawa, Cracker Barrel et. etc. building charging stations? As I said earlier, have you ever heard of the government building a gas station?

What is a better scenario then for a restaurant or convivence store to have a customer that will be there for a short duration.. .

public-redux

While it’s nice to see you defending Republicans, giving politicians credit for innovation and entrepreneurship is an odd way to go about it. Give a little more credit to the private sector, please.

gary4books

"Is Harris saying the government should never spend money on infrastructure, or is he saying he would support a tax increase to pay for it?"

Likely he is a trained "counter puncher" that goes one way when Democrats (and republicans) go the other way. The saying "If you agree with me all the time, I own you." is true. But also true is "If you disagree every time.." I still own you.

Harris serves his purpose. He may discredit a right wing party of negative thinkers. We will see what this money buys for us.

jsklinelga

Obviously parts of this bill were needed but.... Electric charging stations. Well and good but did you ever hear of government building a gas station? Everybody is celebrating a new huge influx of cash but does it help the economy.and rampant inflation.

Typical left message celebrating that high paying union jobs are required or prevailing wages. Who could argue with that" I just remember the exorbitant cost of building new schools and how prevailing wage was the leading factor. Won't be much different for highways. Build less for more. Hundreds of thousands will be able to eat steak while millions will not be able to afford the rising cost of hamburger.

jsklinelga

As a follow up here is the fact sheet from the White House:

Protect critical labor standards on construction projects. The overwhelming majority of the funds in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be subject to Davis-Bacon requirements, which ensure that contractors pay workers on construction projects a fair, prevailing wage so that local wages, labor markets, and workers won’t be undercut. These requirements will protect wages for millions of workers, grow the economy, and support good-paying, union jobs.

As you pass a roads project and see the large amount of various labor do a mental calculation of the increased cost when the labor rates with benefits will be between 35 and 60 dollars an hour

TomWheatley

Most of the time when I pass a roads project, there is one person doing the work and 5 other standing around admiring the effort or otherwise looking busy. Not to mention the two State Police idling their cars at either end of the project along with a speed camera in the middle. Isn't the speed camera good enough to catch the speeders? Or in the case of the PA turnpike, miles of traffic cones with no one working at all.

jsklinelga

Tom Wheatley

You are correct. Typically lots of hands are on deck but the work comes in spurts. Highways and bridges have been big ticket items for years. Unless some labor practices change this new bill will super inflate the cost.

MRS M

................OR, take the Republican approach, as always, and do nothing, achieve nothing, and produce nothing, for the great majority of Americans, other than aspiring to the dream of taking a nation in disrepair back to 1950.

Why not get back to the real "work" of the GOP, jsk, ......repealing Obamacare, building "a Wall", defending the insurgents of Jan. 6th, and restricting voting rights? A Party of losers and cowards.....nothing more.

MD1756

[rolleyes]

jsklinelga

Nrs, M,

Unfortunately boilerplate comments, Republicans do nothing? How about innovation and entrepernership? You can drive

MRS M

jsk, I stand by my comment.. The GOP is a do-nothing Party of losers and cowards. Do Americans need to see anything else beyond yesterdays vote on the sanction of Rep. Gosar of Arizona? An embarrassment of epic proportions from "the Party of Lincoln". Still waitin' on Trump's 4 year long promise of "infrastructure week". Certainly with all the "innovation and entrepreneurship" you claim the GOP possesses.......it boggles the mind that nothing was achieved. And let's be clear, The groveling GOP leadership has done more to proliferate the disasterous loss of lives due to Covid than any other entity in the world. Gotta make you proud. Own it, jsk.

phydeaux994

That’s it in a nutshell MRS M, Thank you.👍

DickD

Ms. M, [thumbup][thumbup] You won't embarass jsk, if that was possible it would have already happened with his support of a Mafia gangster, Trump. And this in spite of his religious view points, which he casts aside to support Trump.

Hayduke2

Mrs M 👍👍👍

jloo

Yawn.

DickD

[thumbup][thumbup]

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