North Carolina is getting nearly $9 billion for infrastructure: Here’s what our representatives, senators are saying about it

North Carolina News

(WGHP) — Officials in North Carolina will have nearly $9 billion for the next five years to spend on improvements to infrastructure based on the $1 trillion bill that on Friday passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support.

But we don’t know how much of that new cash might be used to address specific needs in the Triad.

Based on an assessment from the White House, we know these to be the basic numbers for North Carolina:

  • $7.2 billion for highway programs.
  • $457 million for bridge replacement and repairs.
  • $911 million for public transit.
  • $109 million for the next five years to expand EV charging stations.
  • $100 million to improve access to broadband networks that have left.

But the representatives of the 6th, 10th and 13th Congressional Districts on Monday didn’t respond to requests for specifics on how they would like to see the money allocated for their constituents.

They were much clearer about how they feel about the vote in the House that was delayed for months by a debate among liberal and moderate Democrats. Six of those Democrats voted against the bill, and 13 Republicans voted for it. North Carolina’s votes were along party lines.

That includes Democrat Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) of the 6th District, which includes all of Guilford County and the portion of Forsyth County around Winston-Salem. She supported the bill.

Patrick McHenry (R-Cherryville) of the 10th District, which is the rest of Forsyth, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, Yadkin, Iredell, Catawba and Lincoln counties, voted against the measure.

So did Republican Ted Budd (R-Advance) of the 13th, which includes Davie, Davidson, Rowan, Randolph, Alamance, Caswell, Person and portions of Chatham and Lee counties.

Both senators from North Carolina, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, were among 19 Republicans who supported the bill when it passed the Senate last summer.

Richard Burr (left) and Thom Tillis (right)
Richard Burr (left) and Thom Tillis (right)

Manning, in a statement released by her office, cited the need “to compete in a 21st-century economy, we must modernize outdated infrastructure and encourage innovation while creating good-paying American jobs and making our infrastructure more sustainable. I voted for the Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act because it includes critical funding to repair more than 3,100 miles of roads and 1,400 bridges in North Carolina, expand broadband to more than 424,000 North Carolinians who lack reliable internet access, and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”

Said McHenry: “Instead of addressing the nation’s real infrastructure needs, this bill wastes billions of dollars funding modes of transportation that most Americans aren’t using. To make matters worse, a quarter of the total price tag of this bill is unpaid for, which means more debt that American taxpayers can’t afford. 

“Also tucked away in this bad bill are digital asset reporting requirements that will have a long-lasting and harmful impact on innovation here in the U.S. Using a so-called infrastructure package to write the rules of the road for new technology is indicative of Democrats’ inability to legislate.”

Budd, who is among the candidates to replace retiring Burr in the Senate, called the bill “fatally flawed.

“We were told this bill would be fully paid for. The truth is it will add hundreds of billions to our national debt. We were told this bill would focus on infrastructure. The truth is only $110 billion of the new spending in this bill will be spent on roads, bridges, and items generally accepted as infrastructure,” he said.

“Bottom line: We need real, hard infrastructure, not this liberal trojan horse for a socialist agenda.”

Although not specifying projects, Manning’s office did provide the list of how much the state would get to spend on such climate-enhancement topics as new energy, cleaner water and charging stations for electric vehicles. The bill also addresses the gap in broadband access that is said to be about a third of the population in most counties.

But about 80% of the allocation in North Carolina would go for roads and bridges. The Charlotte Observer reported last spring that the state says it needs about $7.2 billion to improve bad roads and deficient bridges.

NCDOT, for instance, is responsible for inspecting and taking care of about 18,000 bridges and culverts and completes about 9,000 inspections each year. In March 8.2% of those bridges (about 1,100) were deemed to be in poor condition.

That doesn’t mean they were unsafe. NCDOT says “poor condition” means the bridges have “components that are deteriorating). Some are functionally obsolete, which means a bridge doesn’t meet the demands of the traffic routinely passing over it.

A list or priority bridge repairs includes six in Forsyth County – two on U.S. 52, two on I-40 Business, one on U.S. 421 and one on NC 67 – that the American Road & Transportation Builders Association says have about 324,000 crossings a day.

There also are deficient bridges in Guilford County (on I-85) and Iredell County (on I-77).

Roads have more numerous needs, and many of them involve expansion projects. Earlier in the spring NCDOT provided a list of federal aid priority projects that were published by McClatchy in the News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer. That list included:

  • Future Interstate 74 in Winston-Salem, the eastern section of the northern beltway, which would cost $255 million.
  • The U.S. 64 Asheboro bypass east of Interstate 73/I-74/U.S. 220, which would cost $48 million.

In North Carolina, the average driver spends $500/year in maintenance costs incurred from driving on unrepaired and underfunded roads,” the statement from Manning’s office said.

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