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​$1 trillion infrastructure bill could mean funding for Project Connect, I-35 expansion and the airport

The White House reports Texas may receive $26.9 billion toward federal highway programs. (Austonia)

President Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law Monday, which is expected to provide funding for local public transit, roads and the airport.

As a whole, Texas is expected to receive more than $3.3 billion in public transportation support and about $35 billion over five years for roads, bridges, pipes, ports, broadband access and other projects.

Here's how the federal dollars are expected to be distributed in that state:

    • $1 billion per year in additional funding for project development, construction and improvements to roads and bridges over five years.
    • 30% pay increase for bus drivers
    • 13% pay increase for mechanics
    • $1.2 billion for Texas airports
    • $408 million for electric vehicle charging network
    • $100 million for broadband
    • $53 million for wildfire protection
    • $42 million for cyber-attack protection

    The public transportation dollars could mean Project Connect, the $7.1 billion mass transit plan voters approved last year to pay partly with tax-payer money, secures the federal funds needed. The project, which would add two light rail lines and an underground tunnel, has been hoping to secure federal funding to pay for at least 45% of it.

    While the exact amount of dollars per city has not been allocated, earlier this month, CapMetro said it was analyzing the infrastructure bill's full budgetary impact.

    Bob Kaufman, the chief communications officer for TxDOT, told KVUE that additional funding could help Texas move forward with projects in the state's 10-year planning document. The I-35 expansion project, a $4.9 billion plan by the Texas Department of Transportation to widen Interstate 35, is part of that plan.

    Austin's airport also has expansion plans that may anticipate federal funds. Leaders at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are looking into improvements for the Barbara Jordan Terminal and a new 20 gate concourse.

    Chandra Bhat, a civil engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said investment in public transportation is on the low side in Texas. In this year's infrastructure report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Texas roads a D+.

    "I think investments in roads will continue and should continue," Bhat said. "But as our population explodes, I think it just behooves us to be investing in other modes of transportation also."


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