KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Move over, BIF and BBB. Now there’s BBA.
President Joe Biden, trying to rebound from sagging poll numbers, is rebranding his bipartisan infrastructure package as “Building a Better America” as part of a trip Wednesday to Kansas City, Missouri, to promote the deal.
The economy has roared back during Biden’s tenure, but high inflation, political polarization and the inability to fully break free of the coronavirus pandemic has hurt his popularity. The new slogan tied to the $1 trillion infrastructure package is an effort to say that the president’s bipartisan deal will improve the country in ways well beyond simply repairing its aging roads and bridges.
The new slogan replaces past informal references to BIF, the bipartisan infrastructure framework. And it also hews closely to Biden’s separate “Build Back Better” agenda of tax hikes on the wealthy and an expansion of education, family and environmental programs still pending in the Senate. That broad slogan has made it challenging for people to easily grasp all that’s in the package.
The White House launched a site Wednesday that asks Americans to record videos about how the infrastructure spending will help their communities, part of a search for grassroots support as the administration seeks greater recognition for its achievements ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
The infrastructure law will fund upgrades and repairs to roads, bridges, and mass transit and water systems nationwide, along with a shift to electrical vehicles to help ease the effects of climate change.
Biden on Wednesday headed to Missouri, which has nearly 2,200 bridges and more than 7,570 miles of highway deemed in poor condition. Under the law, Missouri would expect to receive $7 billion for highways and bridges, a nearly 30 percent increase in federal funding, the White House said.
The Buck O’Neil Bridge in Kansas City is among bridges in the state in need of repair.
Construction on a replacement bridge began in the fall, before Biden signed the infrastructure bill, and is expected to be completed in the fall of 2024, at an estimated cost of close to $220 million borne by the state and the city.
The 65-year-old bridge is a key route connecting downtown Kansas City with northern Kansas City and growing suburbs across the Missouri River, and carries about 50,000 vehicles a day, according to the state Department of Transportation. It opened in 1956 and had required frequent upgrades and repairs in recent years.
The bridge is named for Buck O’Neil, a two-time All-Star first baseman in baseball’s Negro Leagues and the first Black coach in the National or American leagues. O’Neil was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on Sunday.
Biden kicked off the infrastructure tour last week at a technical college in Rosemount, Minnesota.