Federal Infrastructure Dollars Coming — But Job’s Not Done as Concerns Grow About Economy, Weather Events & Global Competition
Whenever a narrative begins with the words federal money flowing, the obvious questions are to whom and why.
In this case, the why is critically important. Months after the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was passed by Congress, states and counties are receiving groundbreaking funding for infrastructure projects to support the United States’ economy, future and mobility. This means transit, airports, roads, bridges and next-generation energy solutions and resiliency initiatives to deal with weather impacts, says National, Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) President & CEO Michael Johnson in a new ATM Podcast.
With both a broad and niche understanding of all that is aggregates, Johnson is a keen observer of the state of the nation’s infrastructure, and following how IIJA is making an impact, especially given today’s global influences.
He has a worldview on why infrastructure projects are critical to the nation: “When you think about the fact that the Chinese are investing $2.3 trillion in 2022 alone and this is in addition to their ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ — where they’re using infrastructure investment in developing countries to bring countries under their sphere of influence … it’s crucial that we at least spend the $1.2 trillion that we’re doing to keep pace and make sure our infrastructure is ready for the next set of, not just local, state and national, but international challenges.”
Johnson points to a few nuances that are important in the national conversation regarding all the physical fixes America needs: Money is flowing from federal coffers to state departments of transportation (DOTs) and the administration set up discretionary grant programs and those awards are coming into the timeline; however, on the formula side, the money has not yet made it into the project funding stream.
Johnson also noted that in the current economic environment (inflationary pressures, talk of a recession and market uncertainties), at least DOTs now have more certainty. “They know what’s coming to them for the next five years from the federal government, and it allows them to begin these historic projects here to make such a difference in our economic circulatory system and the quality of life for our residents,” he says.
NSSGA is a member of ATM.