“We’ll take as much money as the federal government can send our way and I would say almost every state is in a similar position,” said Bill Panos, director of the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Western Association of State Highway Transportation Officers.
Panos has a 10-year plan for North Dakota, which is estimated to cost $2 billion to maintain the existing infrastructure – the amount the state would receive federal funding for road and highway investments if the bill is passed. are supposed to. North Dakota Senators Kevin Cramer and John Howen, both Republicans, voted for the bill.
“These are the types of projects that bring food from the farm to your grocery store,” Panos said.
Iowa farmer Dave Walton is a prime example of where the problems lie. During the fall harvest, he drives his soybeans east to a terminal on the Mississippi River, where a barge will eventually transport them to the Gulf of Mexico. But the first leg of the journey takes Walton much longer than before.
“We’re going to have to do a lot of detours now because the bridges have become dilapidated and the weight limit has gone down,” Walton said.
waiting for congress
As currently written, the infrastructure law will invest $110 billion in roads and bridges, $39 billion in public transportation, $66 in passenger rail, $17 billion in port infrastructure and $25 billion in airports – Among many other things. The big spending bill focuses more on Biden’s social policies, including expanding the child tax credit, a paid leave benefit, universal Pre-K and free community college.
And angry farmers have been removed from the House version of the bill after criticism from several agricultural trade groups. To help pay the bill it would have taxed unrealized capital gains, which would affect those who want to pass their farm on to the next generation – though the White House said it would exclude family farmers.
jonathan Haladiq, policy director at the Center for Rural Affairs, argues that Congress should fix basic, traditional infrastructure before tackling other issues.
“First things first, let’s just fix the basic problems. We have a long way to go here to live our daily lives,” Hladic said.
Waterway delays cost $44 million per year
The Mississippi River provides a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to move and export agricultural products and manufactured goods – but many locks are 50 years older than they were designed to last. While improvements have been made recently, delays still cost $44 million a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A lock that is locked can be a major problem that, until it is fixed, there is no other way to go.
“The locks are showing their age. The real big concern is the failure at one of these sites during the harvest season,” said Mike Steinhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.
The infrastructure bill would provide much-needed funding to improve the inland waterway system as well as expand the nation’s broadband system – a potential boon for people living in rural America. There is hope that improving infrastructure can revive rural communities, which are losing population over time.
“You need infrastructure to keep the population going and growing,” said former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat who currently serves as director of agriculture for tax consulting firm AlliantGroup. “You won’t be living in a place where you can’t stream Netflix.”