Gulf of Mexico
The Louisiana Highway 1 Bridge, also known as the Gateway to the Gulf Expressway, rises above the marshland and coastal waters on August 25, 2019, in Leeville. Louisiana has been losing its coastal landscape at the rate of almost a football fields worth of land every hour.. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

LA - Louisiana politicians call $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill 'a big win' for the state

State expects billions to invest in roads, bridges and broadband access

In Louisiana, reportedly about 400,000 to 500,000 households don’t have broadband access, but the state official in charge of broadband development said he believes that’s a lowball estimate.

With Louisiana expected to receive $7.2 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the funding is welcomed by Rick Allen, the mayor of Leesville in Vernon Parish — where only about 20 percent of residents have broadband access.

“In the bigger cities, they don’t have the lack of internet service like we do in rural areas,” Allen said. “So I think this is one of the areas where we will benefit more than the big cities do.”

Of $7.2 billion, roughly $4.8 billion will be earmarked for highways and $1 billion for bridges, the seventh highest amount for bridges among all states.

The balance will go toward replacing water infrastructure like pipes and drainage, upgrading public transportation, including airports and railways, enhancing storm mitigation, restoring Louisiana’s coast, upgrading ports and waterways, expanding broadband internet access and building new energy infrastructure for clean hydrogen and carbon capture.

The U.S. House passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill last week, nearly two months after the measure was approved in the Senate. President Joe Biden could sign the bill within days, according to a CNBC report.

Aside from Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who served on the bipartisan team that authored the bill, the rest of Louisiana’s congressional Republicans voted against the bill. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette) claimed, without providing any evidence, that the bill was “9% roads and bridges and 91% socialist garbage.”

However, the American Society of Civil Engineers performed an analysis of the legislation that shows all of the money going to hard infrastructure, and Cassidy said the bill contains no social spending.

Passing the infrastructure bill “is a major victory for Louisiana and our country,” Cassidy said in a statement last week following the bill’s passage.

“This infrastructure bill rebuilds roads and bridges, increases access for all Americans to high-speed internet, strengthens our electrical grid, adds levy protection, coastal restoration and improves flood resiliency,” Cassidy said.

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