U.S. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, visited Birmingham on Friday to tout improvements coming to the state and region under the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The act will fund not only road and bridge work in the state, but it also will pay to provide broadband service statewide and improve water infrastructure in areas where residents do not have access to clean drinking water, according to a press release issued by her office.
“As we all know, COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the legacy of systemic disinvestment that has prevented many American families from reaching their full potential,” Sewell said in the release. “Issues such as the lack of affordable and quality housing, the lack of living wage jobs and the lack of access to child care have continuously plagued Alabama’s 7th Congressional District for years. However, as we recover from the pandemic, I am proud to join with President Biden and Congressional Democrats to ensure that we Build Back Better, stronger and more equitably than before.”
Sewell toured the Birmingham Intermodal Facility Friday morning to kick off her Building a Better Alabama tour and traveled to Tuscaloosa in the afternoon. She continues the tour, which includes a series of roundtable discussions, meetings with constituents and site visits in the 7th District.
Charlotte Shaw, executive director and CEO of Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, toured the intermodal facility with Sewell. “It’s imperative that we change the public image of transit,” she later said. “People died for the right for all to have free and clear access to public transportation, which demonstrates the greatest unity to live and work together as a community regardless of race, status or gender.”
Money for Alabama
According to Sewell’s fact sheet, Alabama should expect to receive more than $400 million over five years under the infrastructure law to improve public transportation options.
The state should receive $782 million over five years to improve water infrastructure and could be in line for some of the $23 billion allotted nationally under the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act.
The act should provide Alabama at least $100 million to provide broadband to areas that do not have it, as well as making 1.5 million Alabamians eligible for an initiative to help low-income families afford internet access.
Sewell in her statement said broadband internet is necessary for many Alabamians to do their jobs, students to participate in virtual learning and patients to take advantage of online health care options. Yet 18% of Alabama households do not have an internet subscription, and 11.5% of Alabama residents live in areas where there is no significant broadband service.
Sewell said that, under the federal funding formula, Alabama expects to receive $5.2 billion over five years for federal highway programs and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs. The state can compete for some of another $12.5 billion set aside for bridge improvements and nearly $16 billion dedicated for major projects that could have substantial economic benefits for communities.
All told, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, along with the Build Back Better Act, are projected to create an average of 2 million jobs nationally per year in the next decade, according to the statement.