US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for Maine Susan Collins
Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins released a statement following the House’s passage of the bipartisan infrastructure package by a vote of 228-206. The legislation, which passed the Senate by a strong, bipartisan vote of 69-30 in August, now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Senator Collins, the Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, was part of the core group of 10 Senators who negotiated the text of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. She focused on the funding for highways and bridges and also spearheaded the broadband working group with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), which reached an agreement to provide $65 billion for the deployment of high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved areas.
“After months of delay, I’m pleased that the House finally took action and passed the landmark bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“This infrastructure package is good for America.
“Earlier this year, I joined a group of 10 Senators—five Republicans and five Democrats—who were determined to break through the partisan gridlock and pass this long-overdue infrastructure investment for the American people. After months of working night and day, our bipartisan negotiations resulted in a truly transformational package for our country that will make the most significant investment in American infrastructure since the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s.
“One of the many provisions that will have a significant impact on Maine is the $65 billion investment for broadband, which will expand high-speed Internet access to rural and unserved areas of our state. I negotiated this section of the bill with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with our colleagues and the Administration. It has become increasingly clear in recent years – and especially in light of the pandemic – that broadband is not a luxury, but a necessity.
“I look forward to this bill being signed into law.”
In addition to Senator Collins, the leaders of the infrastructure negotiations included Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Jon Tester (D-MT).
Key provisions that will benefit Maine include:
· Roads and Highways
o The bill authorizes $1.3 billion to Maine for federal-aid highway apportioned programs over five years to construct, rebuild, and maintain its roads and highways.
o Maine has over 1,438 miles of highway in poor condition. Commute times are up 1.9% since 2011 in the state and bad roads cost drivers an average of $543 per year in repair costs.
o The bill authorizes $225 million to Maine for bridge construction, maintenance and repair.
o Maine can also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.
o Maine currently has 315 bridges considered to be “structurally deficient.”
o The bill authorizes at least $100 million to Maine help provide high-speed Internet coverage across the state, helping provide access to the at least 42,000 Mainers who currently lack it.
o Maine is very well positioned to receive significantly more broadband buildout funding through the State Deployment Grant formula that targets unserved and high-cost areas.
o Additionally, more than 300,000 Mainers will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.
o The bill authorizes $15 billion in formula funding for FAA Airport Infrastructure Grants which supports Airport Improvement Program (“AIP”) projects, such as runways and taxiways, as well as terminal development projects, multimodal, or airport-owned towers. This funding provides flexibility for airports such as Portland International Jetport (PWM) and Presque Isle International Airport (PQI) to address their specific airside or landside needs.
o The bill authorizes $5 billion for FAA’s Facilities and Equipment Program, which includes funding for FAA-owned Air Traffic Control facilities and contract towers.
o The bill authorizes $5 billion in grants for a new Airport Terminal Improvement Program, which includes set asides for small hub airports, nonhub, and nonprimary airports, ensuring airports in communities of all sizes benefit.
o The bill authorizes $5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) program to assist with critical capital projects and rail safety technologies.
o The bill authorizes $3 billion for the Grade Crossing elimination grant program.
o Funding for Amtrak’s National Network which supports upgrades to rail lines, facilities, and trainsets that operate on State-supported routes like the Downeaster.
· Clean Water
o The bill authorizes $254 million to Maine in water revolving funds. This includes theDrinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which passed the Senate overwhelmingly this year.
· Electric Vehicles
o The bill authorizes $19 million to Maine over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state. Maine will also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.