KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As the U.S. House of Representatives considers the future of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed by the Senate on Tuesday, we’re exploring how the legislation could impact Tennesseans.
If it does become law, the Volunteer State would see an estimated $6.92 billion. State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey (R-Knoxville) noted that would be roughly the same financial impact the Improve Act had on the state.
The 2017 Improve Act, she explained, identified 1,000 projects, from all 95 counties. Half of the projects either stand completed or under construction. She said the new funding would “either speed up some of these projects, so we could get to other projects that aren’t identified in the Improve Act, or we could add some additional projects to it.”
Sen. Massey said if the House passed the proposal as-is, it will be the largest increase in federal road project funding since 1993. The money could bring repairs and safety upgrades to roads, bridges, rail, airports, and barges.
It could also mean more access to the internet. The bill includes a minimum of $100 million to expand broadband access and to make it more affordable for low-income families.
“You think of inaccessibility more in the rural counties, but we have areas in Knox County and families I have spoken to and advocated for that cannot get broadband and it’s not simply a matter of cost, it’s just not available,” Massey said.
City and county road departments should also expect to receive additional funding from the state, again, if the current legislation is passed and signed into law.
“Whether it comes through our sales tax, whether it comes through the user fee at the pump, or whether it comes from the federal government, we make sure we use our money as wisely as possible, get the best bang for our bucks, and that we aren’t overspending and going into debt like a lot of states are,” Massey added.
The infrastructure proposal also includes money for public transportation and an expansion of electrical vehicle charging stations.