NBC12, SAMANTHA MCGRANAHAN
Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger joined Governor Ralph Northam and union leaders at the Virginia Capitol on Monday to lobby for the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is currently stuck in the House.
The legislation proposes billions of dollars in funds that could help update every aspect of Virginia’s infrastructure, from roads and bridges to clean water. It is also expected to create thousands of job opportunities for the middle class, such as construction work.
“This legislation would be truly transformative, and I believe in its ability to have a game-changing impact on the central Virginia economy,” said Spanberger.
Northam says that this bill is a long time coming, and it needs to be on President Joe Biden’s desk so Virginia can build a better environment for future generations.
“We’ve postponed the upgrades and modernization that we knew would need to happen one day, like replacing lead pipes in our water systems or building universal access to broadband,” said Northam. “But as everybody who owns a home or a car knows, eventually, it adds up and it catches up to you.”
The bill, if passed, could include hundreds of million dollars to repair Virginia highways and bridges. As of now, Virginia’s highway system is considered outdated compared to other states.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), driving on roads in need of repair in Virginia costs drivers over $500 per year. Over the next five years, the governor says that over $7 billion of the funds will go to repairing and updating Virginia’s highways to make roads safe and resilient to extreme weather for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
Along with the funding for road repair, the governor said 700 bridges are considered structurally deficient. Over the next five years, Virginia will have over $530 million dedicated to bridge replacement and repair.
The bill also includes funding to improve public transportation and adds more electric vehicle charging stations.
“If we want Americans to embrace electric vehicles, we have to make them easy to use, and that means making charging stations as common as gas stations,” Northam said.
Over $700 million would help improve water infrastructure to ensure the safety of drinking water in the commonwealth by updating and replacing the waterways system.
Spanberger is hopeful the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act bill will be voted on by the house in the next two weeks.