U.S. House Passes Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

 Long-delayed and desperately needed funds to upgrade and expand infrastructure advances to President Biden’s desk for signature this week. 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the infrastructure bill (H.R.3684) late Friday night, advancing the $1.2 trillion package to President Biden’s signature this week. The legislation approves all current infrastructure spending and authorizes $550 billion in new funding across the domestic supply chain to improve roads, bridges, and federal-aid highways, expand access to broadband internet, upgrade and expand airports, overhaul the electric grid, and modernize ports.

The long-term benefits to the mobility industry come from improving the cost and efficiency of transporting household goods throughout the United States. And while federal investment should also contribute to overall economic recovery and growth in 2022, challenges with the labor market are likely to create some friction in construction projects. 

Among the bill’s significant investments, the largest item is $110 billion is dedicated to building and repairing roads and bridges and funding congestion relief projects. Rail will receive $66 billion, and $65 billion will go to improving and securing the power grid. Another $25 billion is dedicated to improving air travel infrastructure to include upgrading and expanding terminals and control towers. $17 billion is going to ports and waterways with particular attention to upgrading facilities to deal with rising sea levels and larger storms. 

An investment of $65 billion in broadband is intended to bridge the digital divide in both rural and urban communities and should extend opportunities for remote work to more diverse demographic and geographic groups. Some estimates cited by the White House say that as many as 30 million Americans do not have reliable internet access. “H.R. 3684 will not only improve the traditional infrastructure used for the relocation of employees, but it will also enhance the ability of workers to work remotely which has become a key part of workforce mobility”, stated Worldwide ERC® Government Affairs Advisor Tristan North.

One clear win for the mobility industry is the direct investment in the training and retention of truck drivers. The bill is “a 38% increase in road and bridge funding, and an infusion of highly-trained, younger talent into our workforce,” according to the American Trucking Association’s President and CEO Chris Spear. In an interview for American Trucker, Spear said that “Of the 617,000 bridges across the U.S., nearly half of those are 50 years old, and 46,000 of them are structurally deficient. Of our 4 million miles of public roads, nearly half are in poor or mediocre condition. This is embarrassing—and it’s completely unacceptable.”

One aspect of the legislation that is not getting much attention is the pursuit and retention of careers in trucking by women, including through programs that support recruitment, driver training, and mentorship. Though women comprise 47 percent of the overall workforce, just 6.6 percent of truckers are women. Drafters of the bill note that women truck drivers are 20% less likely than their male counterparts to be involved in a crash. 

Read More