State of the Union – 20,000 projects already funded

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In his State of the Union address, US president Joe Biden mentioned infrastructure six times and climate crisis twice as he catalogued America’s infrastructure progress.

President Biden has made infrastructure renewal a central focus for his presidency as the USA addresses a legacy of underinvestment. 

Speaking in the Capitol, Biden explained the importance of that work for the USA’s place in the world, saying: “To maintain the strongest economy in the world, we also need the best infrastructure in the world. We used to be number one in the world in infrastructure, then we fell to 13th. Now we’re coming back because we came together to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the largest investment in infrastructure since president Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System.”

Work to deliver that new and improved infrastructure is already well underway, with more than 20,000 projects already receiving funding.

Biden said: “These projects will put hundreds of thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, bridges, railroads, tunnels, ports and airports, clean water, and high-speed internet across America.” 

Biden also highlighted examples of the work being done to repair decades of under-investment, and in particular the Brent Spence bridge between Kentucky and Ohio over the Ohio River. The bridge was built 60 years ago and had fallen into disrepair, despite carrying $2bn of freight every day.

Domestic impact of infrastructure

A significant part of America’s investment is being directed to replacing out-of-date water infrastructure. Biden said “We’re also replacing poisonous lead pipes that go into ten million homes and 400,000 schools and childcare centres, so every child in America can drink clean water.”

At the same time, investment is aiming to provide every community with affordable, high-speed internet access.

To ensure capacity for infrastructure projects is strengthened through this period of high investment, Biden announced that he would introduce a new standard to require all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects to be made in America.

Climate crisis

The USA is also investing in new energy capacity to reduce its carbon footprint and improve resilience against severe weather events.

This investment includes new electric grids able to weather major storms, as well as improving roads and water systems to withstand floods. This is being supported with 500,000 electric charging stations across the country and support for families to buy more energy efficient appliances and electric cars.

Biden explained: “Historic conservation efforts to be responsible stewards of our lands. Let’s face reality. The climate crisis doesn’t care if your state is red or blue. It is an existential threat. We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to confront it. I’m proud of how America is at last stepping up to the challenge.”