Biden Plan Includes $621 Billion for Highways, Transit, EVs

  • $174 billion proposed for electric vehicles
  • Administration pursues equity goals with transit investments

President Joe Biden will roll out an infrastructure plan Wednesday that proposes investing $621 billion in transportation, with a focus on roads, bridges, transit, and electric vehicles.

The plan, which Biden will formally announce during a speech in Pittsburgh, aims to revitalize the American economy by creating jobs, spurring innovation, and making it easier and cheaper to travel, according to an administration official.

The White House transportation proposal also addresses goals related to climate change, racial equity, and environmental justice, according to a fact sheet obtained by Bloomberg Government.

The administration hasn’t laid out a plan to reauthorize surface transportation programs, which expire Sept. 30. It’s not clear how those programs will be addressed in the administration’s legislative push.

The sweeping proposal, which must be enacted by Congress, is unlikely to garner the support of Republicans, who have previously called for a narrower package focused on traditional infrastructure. Democrats and the Biden administration are considering advancing an infrastructure package using budget reconciliation, a process that could allow them to pass the legislation without Republican votes.

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Photo: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Contractors work during construction on the San Joaquin River viaduct section of a high-speed rail project in Madera, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2020.

Electrification

Biden’s plan retains a proposal from his presidential campaign to create a network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations. The plan would aim to meet that goal by 2030.

The administration is proposing to invest $174 billion in the EV market. It would give rebates and tax incentives for consumers buying domestically produced EVs.

The administration is also proposing to switch out 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20% of school buses in addition to the federal vehicle fleet, including the United States Postal Service.

USPS awarded Oshkosh Corp. a $6 billion, 10-year contract in February to manufacture a new fleet of as many as 165,000 postal delivery vehicles with “either fuel-efficient internal combustion engines or battery electric powertrains,” according to a USPS release. The contract drew backlash from lawmakers who want the entire fleet electrified.

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The administration said its investments in EVs would help make the U.S. more competitive globally, with the proposed plan pushing more automakers to use domestic supply chains.

China has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to transition to electrification while the U.S. has fallen behind, said Dennis Blair, chairman of the energy policy advocacy group Securing America’s Future Energy and a former director of national intelligence.

“The funding announced in this plan is a strong start, but we must make sure this is funded to the fullest extent possible as the U.S. industrial base and our nation’s national security is on the line,” Blair said in an email.

Transit

The administration is proposing to double the federal investment in transit. Biden will call on Congress to invest $85 billion to modernize existing transit and help agencies expand their systems, according to the White House fact sheet.

The administration is also proposing $80 billion for Amtrak.

The Biden administration wants to use new programs and its investments in transit to help meet its equity goals. The plan proposes $20 billion to address racial equity and environmental justice goals, including a new program that would seek to reverse damage caused by previous transportation investments.

An administration official said the package will focus on making infrastructure more resilient to climate change. They added that 40% of the benefits of the plan’s climate and clean infrastructure investments would be targeted to disadvantaged communities.

Repairing Roads, Bridges

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has repeatedly said the administration will go forward with a ”fix it first” infrastructure policy, which is reflected in Biden’s plan.

Like previous infrastructure packages, Biden’s plan commits significant funding to repairing the nation’s roads. The president will ask Congress to fund the reconstruction of 20,000 miles of highways and roads, along with $20 billion for state and local safety programs and “vision zero” plans.

The Biden administration plan would finance the repair of 10,000 of the nation’s worst small bridges as well as the 10 largest and most economically significant bridges in need of attention, according to the fact sheet.

The plan also proposes $25 billion for airports, and funding for ports and inland waterways.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at lbyington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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