Maine to get $2.3B windfall from federal infrastructure plan

Maine will be getting a windfall of federal funding to help fix crumbling highways and bridges, improve public transit and expand broadband access.

On Saturday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in a 228-206 vote, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Maine stands to get more than $2.37 billion from the spending bill over the next five years, including at least $1.3 billion for road upgrades and $225 million for bridge repairs, according to a breakdown provided by the White House.

Sen. Susan Collins said the bill is “a truly transformational package for our country that will make the most significant investment in American infrastructure since the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s.”

The state will also receive at least $390 million to improve water and sewer infrastructure and other funding for expanding broadband internet access to the state's rural population.

“It has become increasingly clear in recent years – and especially in light of the pandemic – that broadband is not a luxury, but a necessity,” Collins said.

A fact sheet released by the White House ahead of the bill's passage laid out the state's vast infrastructure needs.

Maine's aging roads and bridges top the list of needed upgrades, with many of them in disrepair, according to the White House. The Biden administration said there are at least 315 bridges and nearly 1,438 miles of highway in poor condition.

The White House statement pointed out that commuting times in Maine have increased by 1.9% annually. The average Maine driver spends $543 a year in auto repair costs, according to the statement.

“For decades, infrastructure in New Hampshire has suffered from a systemic lack of investment,” the statement reads. “The need for action is clear.”

Passage of the infrastructure bill caps months of debate on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have failed for years to pass a major legislation to upgrade transportation, water and sewer upgrades and other critical infrastructure needs.

The bill passed with bipartisan support with 13 Republicans supporting it and six Democrats voting against it.

“I truly believe that ten years from now, the passage of this legislation will be heralded as a transformative moment that laid a foundation for success for Americans of all backgrounds,” Sen. Angus King said in a statement. “It wasn’t easy – but it was important, and we got it done. Now, the American people will reap the rewards.”

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