RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — President Joe Biden has signed the one trillion dollar Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law as of Nov. 15.
According to U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez District 15, once that money is dispersed amongst congressional districts, each one will receive $1.2 billion for local projects.
The infrastructure law is the largest transportation investment to be signed into action in two generations.
“We used to be number one when it came to first class infrastructure,” added Gonzalez. “Right now, we rank number 13 in the world, so this is going to bring us back to lead the world in basic infrastructure.”
The basic infrastructure the state of Texas aims to repair and modernize include roadways, broadband connectivity, land bridges, sea ports, drainage, and “weatherization.”
There are 800 damaged bridges and over 18,000 miles of road that need repair, according to Gonzalez. He does want to repair as much of that in the RGV, but wants to focus on broadband connectivity and drainage first.
A minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, according to a press release sent by U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar District 28.
According to the 2019 analysis of National Digital Inclusion Alliance, four of the five least connected cities are in Texas with three of them in the RGV. Pharr ranks number one, Brownsville follows as number two, and Harlingen as number five.
Gonzalez said drainage in the RGV is also a major issue. “We have communities in the Delta area, Mercedes, Weslaco, parts of Edinburg that are under water and it’s a real shame. This is the United States of America. This should not be happening in any community in the country.”
Gonzalez’s plan is to build retention ponds and fully fund the Raymondville drain. The Raymondville drain alone will cost between $440 and $460 million.
Cuellar wants to start with roadways as he told ValleyCentral he has seen where a road is built, jobs follow and having “good roads will create economic development.” $26.9 billion will be set aside for federal-aid highway apportioned programs.
With the construction of roadways, Cuellar estimated that 2 million construction jobs will be available every year for a decade.
Cuellar also commented the federal government will be stepping in to strengthen the state’s electrical grid.
Individual homes will also be receiving insulation to keep both the warm and cool air inside as a part of the $3.5 billion funding for national “weatherization” to help reduce energy costs for families.
$537 million will be given for bridge replacement which U.S. Rep Filemon Vela District 34 said in a press release that “modernizing and expanding Brownsville’s Gateway International Port of Entry will not only bring good jobs to local communities and boost the region’s economy, but also strengthen our national security and facilitate trade and travel.”
Gonzalez hopes to have shovels in the ground by May or June of 2022 and psychical changes to come in the next few years.
A round table discussion via phone with Rep. Cuellar and the Texas Department of Transportation in Pharr will be held Nov. 18 to sort through what plans are moving forward with RGV highway infrastructure.