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Senate OKs infrastructure bill: How would it help Ga., S.C.?

This photo shows a view of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.
This photo shows a view of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Published: Aug. 10, 2021 at 12:24 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2021 at 12:45 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (AP) — With a robust vote after weeks of fits and starts, the Senate approved a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan on Tuesday, rare coalition of Democrats and Republicans joining to overcome skeptics and deliver a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Both of Georgia’s senators, Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, voted in favor of the bill. Among South Carolina’s two Republican senators, Lindsey Graham voted in favor of the bill while Tim Scott voted against it.

The 69-30 tally provides momentum for this first phase of Biden’s “Build Back Better” priorities, now headed to the House. A sizable number of lawmakers showed they were willing to set aside partisan pressures, eager to send billions to their states for rebuilding roads, broadband internet, water pipes and the public works systems that underpin much of American life.

Infrastructure was once a mainstay of lawmaking, but the weeks-long slog to strike a compromise showed how hard it has become for Congress to tackle routine legislating, even on shared priorities.

“There’s been detours and everything else, but this will do a whole lot of good for America,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Here’s a look at how it would affect the two-state region:

Georgia

Based on formula funding, Georgia would expect to receive $8.9 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $225 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.

Georgia could also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.

In Georgia, there are 374 bridges and over 2,260 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 10.8% in Georgia and on average, each driver pays $375 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair, according to the White House.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Georgia a C-minus on its infrastructure report card.

Based on formula funding, Georgia would expect to receive $1.4 billion over five years under to improve public transportation options across the state.

The White House said Georgians who take public transportation spend an extra 74.1% of their time commuting and non-white households are 3.9 times more likely to commute via public transportation. The White House says 7% of trains and other transit vehicles in the state are past useful life.

The bill would fund invest $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of electric vehicle chargers. Of that funding, Georgia would expect to receive $135 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state.

Georgia would also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging.

Georgia would receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, including providing access to the at least 649,000 Georgians who currently lack it. Also, nearly 3.2 million or 31% of people in Georgia would be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access.

The White House says 15% of Georgia households do not have an internet subscription, and 6% of Georgians live in areas where, under the FCC’s benchmark, there is no broadband infrastructure.

South Carolina

South Carolina would receive approximately $4.6 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $274 million for bridge replacement and repairs over five years.

A fact sheet on South Carolina’s share of the funding released by the White House states there are 1,702 bridges and over 7,292 miles of highway in poor condition.

Since 2011, commute times have increased by 7.4% in South Carolina, and on average, each driver pays $625 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair, according to the report.

Also, $5 billion is set aside to improve the state’s public transportation. South Carolinians who take public transportation spend an extra 53% of their time commuting. The data states non-white households are 4.4 times more likely to rely on public transportation for their commute.

The report found 19% of public transit vehicles in the state are “past useful life.”

Also in the act is $100 million to develop internet connectivity and another $70 million for creating an electric vehicle charging network.

After the bill’s passage, the South Carolina Department of Transportation issued a statement saying the agency receives about $733 million a year in federal road and bridge funding.  

Under the bill, the state is poised to receive a more than 30 boost over the next five years. 

That translates into an estimated $1 billion. 

“This additional funding will be key to addressing the remaining gaps in South Carolina’s road and bridge program,” the agency said. “These gaps have previously been primarily identified as congestion relief projects, bridge projects and drainage projects.”

From reports by WRDW/WAGT, WCSC and The Associated Press