By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is ramping up efforts to tout the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and the effort to refurbish roads, bridges and airports and reduce emissions.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will go on a four-day, six-state tour starting Tuesday, visiting Florida, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire to talk up the infrastructure law.
Buttigieg will tout grants approved in the November 2021 infrastructure law including $12 million for the Port of Tampa, $20 million to help complete the Nevada Pacific Parkway connection and expand capacity for dual access to Union Pacific Railroad and Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines and $24.5 million reconstruct roadways and pathways connecting to a major amusement park in Ohio.
“We are building a team, we’re getting the money out of the door and we’re telling the story,” said White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu in a Reuters interview this week.
“This is a transformational bill” Landrieu said, noting it also funds public lands, clean water and electric grid projects.
The administration has funded more than 5,000 projects to date and released around $113 billion. The administration will award billions of dollars in additional grants through the end of 2022, including for electric vehicle charging stations.
“Over the next year or so you will be able to see these things coming out of the ground,” Landrieu said.
He said U.S. agencies are working closely with states and cities on many funding programs. If states are “slow coming in, we got on the phone and called them all. We want to tell you again, ‘We’re trying to get you this money. How can we help?”
On Wednesday, the Commerce Department said all 50 states submitted applications for initial planning awards under the $42.45 billion fund to extend broadband internet to unserved areas. Earlier this month, the administration said all states submitted EV infrastructure deployment plans required under the $5 billion EV charging program.
“We have gotten 100% participation” on these “major structural programs so that the next big thing can happen,” Landrieu said.
This week, the Transportation Department announced $1.66 billion in grants for 1,800 new buses. The 150 awards includes $116 million for New York City to buy 230 battery-electric buses to replace older diesel buses and $280,000 for Fayetteville, North Carolina to buy three light transit vehicles.
Last week, the Transportation Department awarded $2.2 billion in grants to modernize roads, bridges and other projects, including $25 million for California’s High-Speed Rail program.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Diane Craft)