The infrastructure bill combined with another funding bill that could inject money into the social safety net and climate change could ultimately amount to $3 million in investments over the next decade, but the more controversial social infrastructure bill has yet to make it out of Congress.
The infrastructure funding bill signed by Biden on Nov. 15 is meant to bolster the nation’s roads, bridges and ports, but will also invest in things like climate resiliency projects and expanded access to broadband internet.
Much of the money will be distributed to individual states and will require counties or cities to apply for grants. While it’s too soon to say what the city might apply for, here are some of the potential funding sources that Long Beach could tap into for improvements over the course of the next few years.
The Port of Long Beach
Long Beach’s port has been the subject of national headlines because of an epic backlog of container ships sitting off the coast and tying up the nation’s supply chain in recent months, but its efforts to build more on-dock rail, incorporate more electric options for moving freight and reduce emissions could all get help from the new infrastructure bill.
The bill provides over $250 million to the nation’s ports to help reduce truck idling at their complexes to cut emissions, which in Long Beach’s case, largely comes from diesel trucks. Another $250 million will be put into the nation’s ports for electrification projects, of which the federal government could pay 80% of a project cost, according to an analysis of the bill prepared for the city.
Over $10 billion will be invested in projects that generate national or regional economic mobility over the next five years, which could include freight rail projects that have a public benefit.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been trying to expand their on-dock rail and other freight movement capacity to both speed up the quantity of containers they can move while also cutting the number of truck trips required to do that.
Hundreds of millions of dollars will also be put into the nation’s ports to address sea-level rise and flooding issues, procuring new equipment and installing electric vehicle infrastructure.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the state would be aggressive in pursuing funds and said, “We’d like to get $17 billion, but we’re not naive.”
Long Beach Airport
Long Beach Airport embarked on an overhaul of its historic terminal building last year in a project that is adding a new ticketing and rental car area, upgrading the baggage claim and baggage inspection areas as well as other improvements to the parking area.
Some of those aspects have been put on hold because Long Beach’s passenger volume dramatically declined due to the pandemic and passenger fees were funding the project. The new infrastructure bill earmarks funding for airport improvements across the country.
Over the next four years there is $15 billion in airport improvement funding, another $5 billion for terminal development projects and $5 billion more for Federal Aviation Administration facilities and equipment, including FAA-owned contract towers. There is also funding available for airport-owned traffic control tower improvements.
Quality of Life
The infrastructure investments are not going to be limited to roads and facilities as the bill also provides billions in funding that could improve the quality of life for people at home. Tens of billions of dollars are proposed for increasing the nation’s broadband internet accessibility and lowering the cost for lower-income families.
States are expected to receive $100 million each to address high-cost or undeserved areas, but a total of $42.5 billion nationwide could be available to help close the digital divide. That could come in the form of building out infrastructure, but also having the federal government subsidize the cost ($14.2 billion).
A 2017 report found that nearly 15% of Long Beach residents lacked access to the internet.
Other investments ($5 billion) in Vision Zero initiatives, programs aimed at reducing serious injuries and deaths for pedestrians are included in the bill.
The bill also provides $550 million in grant funding over five years to help support minority businesses through support centers and non-profits and to higher education institutions for the development of entrepreneurship programs.
One of the biggest allocations coming out of the bill is for the nation’s highways, roads and bridges, with over $273 billion over the next five years expected to be invested. The money will go toward a multitude of issues including the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, improving public transit and making at-grade rail crossings safer, or moving them altogether.
There’s also funding to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers.
The bill provides $25 million for projects that erect raised concrete or metal posts on sidewalks to protect people from vehicles and $6.42 billion in funding that is earmarked for reducing transportation pollution by creating trail facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. It also requires automakers to install technology that can detect when a person is drunk or impaired.
The bill would also ban the use of electronic cigarettes on public transportation and requires grant recipients to include a comprehensive safety plan to reduce assaults on transit workers. Billions could also be spent on upgrading bus fleets by replacing them with low and zero-emission alternatives.
The bill was as much about improving the nation’s infrastructure as it was about changing the ways in which Americans use that infrastructure to reduce the country’s carbon footprint and help it deal with the future effects of climate change.
Billions could be spent on creating alternative fueling stations for both commuter vehicles and the trucks that service the ports and carry America’s cargo cross country. The bill would prioritize installation of chargers in rural, low-income and communities with high numbers of multi-unit housing developments.
Another $250 million is available to help reduce congestion in metropolitan areas and another $250 million could be used to deploy “Healthy Streets” in majority-minority census blocks.
The “Healthy Streets” program would replace street surfaces in communities of color with cool, porous pavements and expand tree cover to try to reduce the heat-island effect, which is expected to grow worse as temperatures rise.
The bill’s Protect Grant Program will include $8.7 billion for communities to put toward projects that enhance the resiliency of cities to climate change.
For Long Beach, a city that is expected to have to spend hundreds of millions over the next two decades to battle rising seas, there could be help from the bill. It provides $140 million in grants for at risk coastal infrastructure.