Infrastructure bill solves some long-overdue, expensive Iowa problems

Rep. Cindy Axne represents Iowa's Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.

For decades, investments in our country’s infrastructure have failed to keep up with our growth, leaving Iowans with some of the most structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. and increasing costs for Iowa’s families from bottlenecks created by outdated ports and transportation systems.

That’s why I voted for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a bill that will invest more than $5 billion in Iowa’s roads, bridges, water systems and high-speed internet and modernize our country’s ports to ensure our shipping industries have the infrastructure they need to operate efficiently.

The return on this investment will be phenomenal for Iowa, which will receive more than $432 million from the largest dedicated investment in bridges seen since we constructed our interstate highway system in the 1950s.

This bill also will bring $638 million to Iowa to help improve our water infrastructure in towns and counties where pipes are sometimes more than 100 years old — and where more than three-quarters of Iowa’s children have unsafe levels of lead in their blood.

As a member of the Rural Broadband Task Force, I have been working to close the remaining gaps in our broadband infrastructure since I was sworn into Congress.

I hear from folks far too often who need a good, reliable broadband connection at home so their children can do their homework and at their businesses so they can discover new market opportunities. I have heard from health care providers who need broadband connections because they have relied on telehealth services to keep Iowans safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bipartisan legislation that I helped send to the President’s desk last week includes a $65 billion investment in rural broadband, which will be allocated based on where unserved areas exist across the U.S. Since Iowa ranks 45th in the country for connectivity, I expect to see a good amount of that funding allocated here.

It is time we get every Iowan connected to broadband so we can grow our businesses, provide everyone with essential health care services and ensure our children don’t have to do their homework in a car parked in a McDonald’s parking lot in the middle of winter just so they can get online.

I have heard opponents of this bill say that it doesn’t invest enough in hard infrastructure, but this legislation will deliver more than $3.4 billion in highway aid directly to Iowa to help the state improve the 403 miles of highways in Iowa that are in poor condition.

It will also help folks who rely on public transportation with a $305 million investment to help replace the 38% of our trains and transit vehicles that are beyond their service life. Iowa’s bus fleet is one of the oldest in the nation and serves as a critical service for many rural Iowans in all 99 counties. Another $120 million will go toward airport infrastructure upgrades here in Iowa.

When combined with the Build Back Better Act, this legislation will create millions of jobs, provide tax cuts for working Iowans and lower costs for Iowa’s families — all while ensuring that we aren’t increasing taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

The bipartisan, commonsense solutions included in this legislation will help keep Iowans safe, connected and competitive in the global economy by providing funding for projects that have been ignored and caused this state to be overlooked for far too long.

Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.


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