WJ Editorial
WJ Editorial

Infrastructure Funding Moves Ahead

President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared together January 4 at the Brent Spence Bridge that connects Covington, Ky., to Cincinnati, Ohio, to tout the bipartisan achievement of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), funds from which will allow the construction of a companion bridge that will carry the interstate, while the existing bridge continues to serve local traffic.

Funding in this bill is spread over five years and will be above and beyond annual baseline appropriations. The American Association of Port Authorities called IIJA “a significant down payment on modernizing and upgrading port and intermodal infrastructure.” IIJA includes more than $6.5 billion exclusively for port programs and an additional $27 billion that ports are eligible to apply for.

American Waterways Operators has called IIJA a “generational opportunity” for its members, thanks to the $17 billion in maritime-related investments it includes.

As funding from IIJA continues to move through the pipeline, what AAPA calls a “down payment” on needed infrastructure upgrades for our ports and inland waterways systems seems assured. As homeowners know, a down payment isn’t the whole show. Inflation may yet adjust to what can be done with this funding. But Democrat Biden and Republican McConnell had good reason to savor the moment.

Sign up for Waterway Journal's weekly newsletter.Our weekly newsletter delivers the latest inland marine news straight to your inbox including breaking news, our exclusive columns and much more.

Their joint appearance was a welcome symbol of the steady bipartisan cooperation, often behind the scenes, that has benefitted infrastructure investment in recent years, which has been forwarded not only by IIJA but also by the Water Resources Development Act, signed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The only way to move forward on our infrastructure challenges is in a bipartisan manner, and we hope IIJA-style bipartisan cooperation continues in this Congress.