Federal infrastructure bill will lead to many improvements from mobility to broadband
Throughout my career, I have supported the skilled labor provided by our invaluable unions, the abilities of our workers, and small businesses and entrepreneurs to create more good-paying jobs.
That is why as a member of Congress and the co-chairman of the congressional steel caucus, I was proud to vote for the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was signed into law and is anticipated to bring $8 billion in funds to Indiana for improvements to our roads, bridges, mass transit, ports, airports and expanded broadband internet. This law will immediately benefit our workers and the domestic steel industry, which are vital to the strength of our Region.
From union halls, steel mills and manufacturing centers to local municipalities and business networks, our nation has been talking far too long about the need to support workers by making desperately needed investments in our infrastructure and broadband technology. According to the latest report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, 23% of the roads in Indiana are in such poor condition that drivers pay an extra $638 in car repairs each year, and 6% of the bridges in Indiana were deemed structurally deficient.
Northwest Indiana’s economic infrastructure and transportation assets have the potential to greatly benefit from the passage of the IIJA. For example, the recent investments of over $1 billion into the South Shore Line by way of the West Lake Corridor Project and the Double Track Northwest Indiana project will transform the availability of good-paying jobs in the Region’s economy.
A similar opportunity presents itself at our Northwest Indiana airports. According to the Federal Aviation Administration under the IIJA, the Gary/Chicago International Airport is expected to receive $763,000; the Porter County Regional Airport is expected to receive $295,000; and the Michigan City Municipal Airport is expected to receive $159,000. Major initiatives and investments have been completed at the Gary airport in the past decade, including the completion of the extension of the runway and the establishment of a U.S. Customs facility. We must continue to work with the city of Gary and all our regional airport officials to draw attention to these assets, and harness the impact of these investments to create improved hubs for businesses and good-paying jobs.
Additionally, one of the greatest economic assets in Northwest Indiana is the 38 miles of our shoreline along Lake Michigan. We are so fortunate along our shore to have the indispensable workers at the Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor to move goods and commerce to and from our Region. I also am grateful that the Indiana Dunes was named our nation’s 61st national park. And the recent $17.8 million grant awarded to support the Marquette Greenway Project will provide a wonderful recreational activity for all residents and visitors to our Region. This grant will be used to complete the remaining 20 miles of the Marquette Greenway, a planned 60-mile bicycle/pedestrian path around Lake Michigan in Indiana that connects our lakefront communities and our national park.
I also am pleased that the IIJA includes increased funding for broadband infrastructure and improved access to the internet. Far too many individuals in Northwest Indiana and throughout our state do not have access to the internet, especially during the pandemic when it is so crucial for online access and video conferencing for health, educational and economic endeavors.
The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic remind us that health, safety and economic prosperity are inextricably linked.
While there are great challenges that confront our economy today related to inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and adjustments to workplace environments, I believe that the IIJA will assist our Region, state and nation in confronting these challenges. As the executive branch and department agencies work to implement this law, I will continue to work to ensure that these funds are expended in a transparent, expeditious and fair manner that promotes the growth of a more equitable economy that works for everyone.