Biden's Infrastructure Bill: What It Is and What It Might Mean for Contractors in Houston

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Zaid Rahman
November 15, 2021
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In June, President Biden unveiled the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan.

While you’ve probably heard bits and pieces about the infrastructure plan, you may be left wondering how Biden’s plan might affect your construction business.

Here we take a look at the current details of the plan and what it may mean for Houston contractors.

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7 Things Included in the Bill

#1. Money for Improving Roads and Bridges

Biden’s plan calls for investing: 

  • $110 billion into roads, bridges, and major infrastructure projects. The White House states that 173,000 miles, or 20%, of US highways and major roads, are in poor condition. 
  • $40 billion in bridge repair, rehabilitation, and replacement. According to the White House, this would be the single largest investment solely dedicated to bridges since the Interstate Highway System project, which began in the 1950s. 
  • $16 billion for additional projects.
  • $11 billion for transportation safety. This includes a program designed to reduce crashes and fatalities, particularly those involving cyclists and pedestrians.
  • $1 billion to reconnect communities, most of which are disproportionately black neighborhoods, that have been divided due to the placement of infrastructure or highways. This will involve the planning, design, removal, and reconstruction of parks, street grids, and other forms of infrastructure.

The focus of the improvements would be climate change mitigation, resilience, and equity, and safety for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists. 

#2. Funding for Public Transportation and Railways

The bill includes the provision of:

              * Upgrading the current infrastructure

               * Making stations accessible to all users

               * Bringing public transportation to new communities; and

              *  Modernizing and expanding the current transit and rail networks across the country, including the replacement of thousands of vehicles with zero-emission models. 

  • $66 billion in passenger and freight railway systems.
  • $12 billion in partnership grants for intercity railway services, including high-speed rail.

According to the White House, this is the largest federal investment in the history of public transportation, including the creation of Amtrak.

#3. Broadband Upgrade

The infrastructure bill allocates:

  • $65 billion towards improving the nation's broadband infrastructure. This would give every American access to reliable high-speed internet and ideally drive internet service costs down.

#4. Improvements to Airports, Waterways, and Ports

The bill includes: 

  • $17 billion for improvements in port infrastructure.
  • $25 billion for airports. 

These funds would allow for the:

  • Resolution of repair and maintenance backlogs.
  • Reduction of congestion and emissions near ports and airports.
  • Promotion of electrification and other low-carbon technologies.

#5. Electric Vehicles

The bill would provide:

  • $7.5 billion for low- and zero-emission ferries and busses.
  • $7.5 billion for building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle charging stations.

#6. Water Systems

Included in the bill is:

  • $55 billion for upgrading the country's current water infrastructure. This would replace lead service pipes and lines and provide clean drinking water to all communities.
  • $50 for making the current system more resilient and providing protection from drought, floods, and cyberattacks.

#7. Improve Power

The bill would invest:

  • $65 billion for rebuilding the electric grid, including expanding renewable energy and creating thousands of miles of new power lines.

What Might This Mean for Construction Companies in Houston?

The bottom line?

While the huge increase in projects across the realm of construction will be a huge boon to the industry, there are a couple of factors that may prove to be challenging. 

First and foremost there will be a need for additional skilled construction laborers. While this definitely translates to a high level of job security, there will be a challenge in overcoming the current scarcity of skilled labor.

The restoration of the currently depleted supply chain will be another obstacle to overcome. 2020-2021 have seen an enormous increase in the cost of raw materials, causing pauses in construction or dramatic increases in the cost to build. While the Biden administration says they’re committed to removing supply chain constraints, it will likely take time to get everything running smoothly again.

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