White House officials highlighted sluggish highway traffic, slow bus travel and spotty rural internet service in Georgia Monday as part of pitch to boost support for President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure package.
The high-priced “America Jobs Plan,” which has not yet gained Congress’ approval, would take aim at road and bridge repairs to cut down on Georgia commute times that have increased nearly 11% over the past decade, according to a White House fact sheet of the issued Monday.
It would also seek to improve broadband connections in roughly 40% of Georgia where there is little or no internet access, increase housing supply for the state’s estimated 654,000 residents who struggle paying rent and contribute to the $12.5 billion needed to fix local drinking-water systems.
- View the White House infrastructure fact sheet for Georgia here.
“The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure and position the United States to out-compete China,” read a White House news release sent Monday.
The infrastructure plan faces pushback from leading Republicans and some Democrats over its scope and proposals to fund projects by hiking the corporate tax rate. Democrats hold a majority in Congress with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate.
State officials are “going to continue to monitor” congressional talks on the infrastructure package and potential benefits for Georgia, as well as impacts from increasing corporate taxes for transportation projects, said Josh Waller, director of policy and government affairs for the state Department of Transportation.
Calls to pass the plan come on the heels of recent approval for $1.9 trillion in COVID-19 pandemic aid, adding to last year’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
In Georgia, congressional leaders including Democratic U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson, Nikema Williams and Carolyn Bourdeaux have pushed the plan to shore up public transit and widen key roads in the clogged metro Atlanta area.
State transportation officials have budgeted around $2.6 billion this fiscal year and next through June 2022 for road, bridge and transit construction projects, including $10 million for broadband improvement in rural and underserved areas.
Additionally, work has been underway since 2016 to widen and reconstruct several stretches of major highways and interchanges in metro Atlanta, Macon and Savannah areas including on I-285, I-85, I-75, I-16 and I-95. Those projects are scheduled for completion between next year and 2032.
This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.