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Hawaiʻi Lawmakers Laud Passage of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

US Sen. Mazie Hirono and US Sen.Brian Schatz. Courtesy photos.

President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, more formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, at a ceremony at the White House, Monday.

It was supported by all four of Hawaiʻi’s members of Congress, including “yes” votes from both Rep. Ed Case (HI-01) and Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI-02) when it passed out of the US House two weeks ago.

“Billions of federal dollars are now on their way to Hawai‘i to help us improve our buses and public transit systems, fix up our roads and bridges, and create thousands of new jobs across the state,” said Senator Schatz, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing. “This massive investment will make it safer and easier for Hawai‘i families to get around and benefit our local economy for many, many years to come.”

In addition to the billions of dollars in federal funding for Hawai‘i, the new law also includes a provision authored by Senator Schatz to improve road safety standards and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The Vulnerable Road Users Safety Act, which Schatz worked to include in the deal, will help utilize technology, infrastructure, and design expertise to vastly reduce pedestrian and cyclist road deaths in Hawai‘i and across the United States.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaiʻi’) said, “Our crumbling infrastructure is impacting the lives of families in Hawaiʻi’ every single day. But today, President Biden signed into law historic legislation that will repair our roads, bridges and public transportation, update our airports and ports, expand access to high-speed internet, deliver clean drinking water, and invest in clean, reliable energy. By strengthening our nation’s infrastructure, we’ll improve our supply chain crisis, ease inflation, and create thousands of good-paying jobs across the state.   

“But we’re not stopping there. We need to do more to make our economy work for everyone. This starts by expanding the Child Tax Credit, making child care affordable and available which will help parents—and in particular, women—get back to work, lowering the cost of health care, and taking decisive, bold steps to confront the growing impact of climate change. That’s exactly what the Build Back Better package will do—and we’re going to pay for this by making sure the biggest corporations and wealthiest individuals actually pay their fair share of taxes, she said.”

“The next step is to put these dollars to work immediately here in the islands to address our current and future infrastructure needs,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi. “We must use these funds now to make critical repairs to roads and bridges, deliver broadband access for all, build climate-resilient and disaster-resilient infrastructure, and upgrade our power grids for a zero-emissions future.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is described as a “once-in-generation bipartisan bill” that is aimed at creating jobs, turning the climate crisis into an opportunity, and putting the nation on a path towards economic recovery.

Key provisions in the infrastructure bill for Hawai‘i include:

Roads, bridges, and major projects – at least $1.5 billion for Hawai‘i

  • At least $1.2 billion in estimated funding for Hawai‘i will be used to repair and rebuild roads with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, and safety for all road users
  • At least $339 million for Hawai‘i from the Bridge Program to repair and replace deficient or outdated bridges
  • Hawai‘i has access to nearly $16 billion in nationwide funding for major projects
  • Access to $7.5 billion for competitive RAISE grants which support surface transportation projects of local and/or regional significance

Public transit – at least $637.4 million for Hawai‘i

  • Funding will be used to help repair and expand Hawai‘i’s public transit system, including a historic investment in cleaner and safer buses

Airports – at least $246 million for Hawai‘i

  • Funding will be used to improve runways, gates, taxiways, and terminals and make investments that will reduce congestion and emissions, and drive electrification and other low-carbon technologies
  • Hawai‘i also has access to $5 billion in nationwide funding from the Airport Terminal Program for major terminal renovations and expansions

Broadband – at least $160 million for Hawai‘i

  • At least $100 million in funding will be used to help the state deploy and expand broadband access to more Hawai‘i families
  • The Department of Hawaiian Homelands is set to receive at least $60 million to provide high-speed internet access to more Native Hawaiian families
  • At least 280,000 Hawai‘i residents will be eligible for a new benefit aimed at helping low-income families afford high-speed internet access
  • Funding will also support the construction of new broadband infrastructure, including undersea cables

Water infrastructure – at least $200.4 million for Hawai‘i 

  • Funding includes $112.4 million to Hawai‘i from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to improve drinking water treatment, pipes, and water storage tanks
  • An additional $88 million to Hawai‘i from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to help support municipal wastewater facilities and treatment systems
  • Access to $10 billion to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
  • Access to $250 million in grants for low-income households for the construction, repair, or replacement of individual decentralized wastewater treatment systems

Electric vehicles – at least $18 million for Hawai‘i

  • Funding to build out electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Hawai‘i to enable long-distance travel and to provide convenient charging where people live and work
  • Access to an additional $2.5 billion in nationwide grant funding dedicated to EV and alternative fuels charging infrastructure
  • Access to $5 billion to replace existing school buses with zero emission and clean school buses, with a priority on low income, rural, and Tribal schools
  • Access to $5.25 billion in grants for state and local governments to purchase or lease zero- and low-emission transit buses

Clean energy and grid – at least $3 million for Hawai‘i

  • Funding includes at least $3 million to Hawai‘i from the Department of Energy’s State Energy Program to pursue state-led initiatives that accelerate our clean energy transition
  • Hawai‘i has access to $3 billion in matching grants for smart grid investments, including energy storage
  • Access to $500 million in competitive grants to make energy efficiency, renewable energy, and vehicle upgrades at public schools
  • Access to an additional $550 million in nationwide funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

Resiliency – $11 billion (nationwide)

  • Hawai‘i has access to nearly $1.3 billion in nationwide funding for coastal habitat restoration to increase resilience
  • Access to $1 billion for resilience infrastructure through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program
  • Access to $8.7 billion from the new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) program, which provides formula and competitive funding for resilience improvement grants, community resilience and evacuation route grants, and at-risk coastal infrastructure grants

Street safety – $5 billion (nationwide)

  • Funds a new program to help state and local governments implement “vision zero” plans and other improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians

Flood mitigation – $7 billion (nationwide)

  • Hawai‘i has access to $7 billion in nationwide funding to support flood control projects that protect vulnerable communities from sea level rise and extreme weather

Ports and waterways – $16.6 billion (nationwide)

  • Hawai‘i has access to new funding for waterway and coastal infrastructure, inland waterway improvements, and port infrastructure

Addressing legacy pollution – $21 billion (nationwide)

  • Hawai‘i has access to $1.5 billion in nationwide funding for brownfields remediation
  • Access to $3.5 billion for Superfund cleanup

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2021/11/16/hawai%ca%bbi-lawmakers-laud-passage-of-infrastructure-investment-and-jobs-act/

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