Larsen: Bold Investment in Nation’s Infrastructure Creates Jobs, Builds Greener Transportation Network

Source: The Office of US Representative Rick Larsen, November 5, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Tonight, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) supported passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, bipartisan legislation that makes bold, long-term investments in the nation’s infrastructure to create well-paying jobs, keep the economy moving and fight climate change. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the House of Representatives by a final vote of 228 to 206 and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“This is the bold, long-term investment in infrastructure the nation needs to create more jobs, drive economic recovery and growth, and build a cleaner and greener transportation network,” said Larsen, a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “Now is the time to focus on advancing the Build Back Better plan to empower working families, invest in quality, accessible child care, create more well-paying clean energy jobs, build more affordable housing and lower prescription drug costs for seniors.”

Washington state alone needs more than $222 billion in infrastructure investments, according to the Association of Washington Business. Washington state is expected to receive the following infrastructure investments via the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years, per White House estimates:

  • $4.7 billion for highways
  • $1.79 billion to improve public transportation options
  • $882 million to improve water infrastructure and ensure clean, safe drinking water
  • $605 million for bridge replacement and repairs
  • $385 million for airport infrastructure
  • At least $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state to at least 241,000 Washingtonians
  • $71 million to support the expansion of an electrical vehicle (EV) charging network
  • $39 million to protect against wildfires
  • $18 million to protect against cyberattacks

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses many of Larsen’s local infrastructure priorities, including:

Cleaner and Greener Buses

Local transit agencies like Everett Transit and the Whatcom Transportation Authority are expanding electric bus fleets to keep people moving while reducing maintenance costs, lowering energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes a provision based on Larsen’s GREEN Buses Act that commits $2.34 billion for low- or zero-emission bus grants for bus transit programs.

Cleaner and Greener Ferries

States like Washington – where ferries account for 73% of the state’s annual transportation carbon emissions – and localities across the country are ready to commit to cleaner and greener passenger ferry fleets, but still need robust federal investment to support their efforts. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes a language based on Larsen’s GREEN Ferries Act that directs $250 million for a pilot initiative to purchase electric or low-emission ferries.

Promoting Transportation Jobs, Boosting Diversity

The need is growing for more professional airline pilots, air traffic controllers, railroad workers and truck drivers, mechanics and other professions as industry stakeholders face increased competition worldwide. The transportation workforce also faces a diversity issue: nearly 90% of professional airline pilots and nearly 70% of truck drivers are white males. The Investment Infrastructure and Jobs Act includes Larsen’s bipartisan provision to grow the next generation workforce by promoting career opportunities and boosting diversity in the U.S. transportation industry. The bill also establishes apprenticeship goals by employing traditionally underrepresented populations to create a more diverse construction workforce.

Repairing Washington’s Bridges

According to a recent report, nearly 400 bridges in Washington state are structurally deficient and the state has identified more than 6,500 bridges in need of repair. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes approximately $27.5 billion over five years to make an important down payment on the nation’s bridge safety needs and an additional $9.24 billion for the Bridge Investment Program. The bill also requires states to use a greater percentage of their federal funding allocation on bridge repair and rehabilitation projects.

Keeping Rail on Track

Reliable and efficient passenger rail service is essential to connecting communities like Everett, Stanwood, Mount Vernon and Bellingham in the Second District to Seattle, Spokane, Portland and Vancouver, British Columbia. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes robust federal funding Larsen advocated to renew and support long-distance and state-supported Amtrak routes like Empire BuilderCoast Starlight and Cascades that serve more than 13.1 million customers in Washington state annually. The bill also strengthens freight rail safety, requiring freight trains to have a certified engineer and a certified conductor on board.

Expanding the Bike/Pedestrian Network

To ensure safety comes first for vulnerable road users, Second District communities like Bellingham and Lynnwood depend on federal resources to invest in bike lanes, sidewalks and trails. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes provisions Larsen supported to boost federal funding for communities to have the resources needed to improve safety and equity for all road users, increase mobility and reduce traffic congestion and pollution.

Using Innovative Construction Materials

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes provisions Larsen advocated for to improve research on and expand the use of cutting-edge materials in infrastructure projects to improve safety, promote resiliency, reduce carbon emissions and support local jobs.

Replacing Fish Barriers and Culverts

According to the state’s Department of Transportation, Washington’s highway network includes approximately 1,995 fish barrier culverts built to federal design standards. Due to changes in the landscape resulting from development, logging and fire, these culverts unintentionally block endangered salmon species from accessing critical habitat, spawning grounds and food sources. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes language Larsen supported to authorize $4 billion to improve habitat connectivity which will help Washington replace more than 400 fish barrier culverts across the state.

For a summary of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Actclick here.

For Larsen’s district transportation report, click here.

For a video of Second District mayors advocating federal investment in infrastructure, click here.