Guest Column: Historic Infrastructure Bill Will Improve Minnesota Life For Generations To Come – Albert Lea Tribune
Guest column by Tina Smith
When the United States Senate passed a unique bill this month to make historic and long-awaited investments in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, we achieved something that has eluded lawmakers in our nation for decades. .
The heavily bipartisan move will mean residents of Minnesota and across the country will soon see a transformative injection of funds to repair roads, bridges, highways, water systems, railroads, ports and cities. electrical networks. It is also providing $ 65 billion to provide quality, affordable broadband networks to communities – especially those in rural America – that have for too long struggled to thrive without modern high-speed internet.
In Minnesota, it will jumpstart the economy and help complete hundreds of local projects in communities of all sizes and across the state. The resulting improvements will create and support well-paying jobs across the country and strengthen our country’s efforts to tackle climate change.
Minnesota urgently needs infrastructure investment
The need to invest in infrastructure is clear. For decades, Minnesota has suffered from a lack of funding that has hampered efforts to modernize our systems, made travel less efficient, and hampered economic growth. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Minnesota a grade of C on its infrastructure scorecard.
Earlier this year, a senior state transportation official told the Minnesota Legislature that there were more than 800 bridges to be repaired or replaced over the next decade that were not part of the plan. Minnesota Ten-Year Funding. He also said that without additional funding, Minnesota would find itself in “unprecedented territory” in the years to come for the number of poor highways.
Fortunately, the Senate infrastructure bill addresses these needs by sending Minnesota $ 4.5 billion for freeway upgrades, $ 302 million for bridge replacement and repair, $ 856 million dollars for our transit systems and at least $ 100 million for broadband across the state.
This means residents of southern Minnesota could see the funding needed to complete long-awaited improvements to Highway 14 to improve safety and efficiency. Now Minnesota will have the resources to undertake projects like these statewide.
Minnesota will receive $ 100 million to improve
When I first came to the Senate, one of my main priorities was to increase access to broadband. It’s not just fun to have, it’s a 21st century necessity for communities striving to attract families and businesses, and create jobs and economic development. Broadband connects students to top-notch education and enables healthcare institutions to deliver much-needed and often life-saving services like telehealth. The current pandemic has shown us how important quality broadband is for people working from home and for students who learn remotely.
Sadly, I’ve heard too many stories of parents in Minnesota being forced into a fast food parking lot to access a connection good enough for their kids to do their homework. And even the best-run businesses struggle to compete – and connect with customers – without quality broadband.
The infrastructure bill changes that. Minnesota will receive a minimum of $ 100 million, which will significantly increase our state’s efforts to connect its 157,000 homes currently without service. It also ensures that new broadband services are affordable and that any new system provides quality connections, so that users, especially those in rural areas, are not stranded with substandard or second-class service.
Bill on infrastructure to complete the next budget “Build back better”
While the infrastructure bill is historic, we still have work to do to make the necessary investments that give our nation the tools to succeed, lower taxes and lower costs for working families. Shortly after the passage of the infrastructure bill, the Senate also approved the outline of our “Build Back Better” budget. Under this budget deal, Congress will work this fall on detailed efforts to dramatically improve our nation’s housing, education, child care and clean energy infrastructure, as well as reduce drug costs. on prescription.
One of my top priorities will be to continue moving our country forward towards a clean energy future by promulgating a clean electricity standard that over time achieves net zero emissions in our electricity sector. It will be at the heart of our efforts to fight climate change, put the United States at the forefront of technological innovation, and create millions of well-paying jobs.
With the passage of the Infrastructure Bill, we are no longer just talking about infrastructure, we are actually achieving results that will improve the lives of millions of Minnesotans, create a generation of jobs and economic growth, and position our country to succeed in the 21st century.
Democrat Tina Smith represents Minnesota in the US Senate.