A game changer for infrastructure and our neighborhoods

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a game changing law that establishes programs to create millions of family sustaining jobs, address the climate crisis, and connect us through classic infrastructure like bridges and roads and informational infrastructure to get high speed internet to everyone, no matter where they live in this great country of ours.

The basics of the act are simple, but powerful things that everyone can agree makes sense:

  • Clean water – replacing lead pipes and getting truly clean, safe drinking water to everyone. For people in the Riverwards, this should mean improvements to an aging water system going underneath increasingly unstable streets.
  • Access to the internet – providing $65 Billion. While this is primarily focused on rural areas, the program will also make internet services more affordable and provide good paying jobs in the trades for constructing the physical infrastructure that will be needed.
  • Roads, bridges, and climate change (oh my) – the investment to repair our roads and bridges is designed to be completed in a way that will reduce our impact on climate change. Again, for people of the 177th, there is a program that will impact us directly – Safe Streets and Roads – to reduce traffic fatalities.
  • Mass transit and rail – appropriating almost $90 Billion over the next five years to agencies like SEPTA to improve and expand services and expand fleets that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For Amtrak, the $66 Billion to bring its tracks into the 21st century is the largest investment in 50 years. Rail improvements will affect both passenger travel and commercial freight.
  • Ports – PhilaPort is one of the nations most important ports and this act will directly impact it. The Port administrators have plans to expand capacity and modernize equipment. This will provide more jobs directly in our neighborhoods – with the Tioga Marine Terminal in the district and South Port only a few miles away. Port modernization will also help address issues like the supply chain disruption we are suffering right now.
  • Climate Change initiatives with positive economic impact – Our environment needs attention now. The UN has clearly stated that if we don’t act now, the effects will be catastrophic. The Bipartisan infrastructure act includes investment in electric vehicle infrastructure; development of clean, renewable energy; and resilience against extreme weather events that have become all too common. For our district, the $21 Billion provided for cleanup of Superfund and brownfields can be directed towards remediation of many of our legacy industrial sites.

Making sure this huge piece of legislation has an impact on our neighborhoods will be a priority for me. I have already been in conversations with PhilaPort about their needs. I have also been listening to frustrated residents about lead remediation that is needed in several of our Recreation Centers. I’ve already started pushing my fellow elected officials to direct funds to our neighborhoods because the right investment will make everyone’s lives better by providing family sustaining jobs and a cleaner environment. Investment in physical infrastructure has always improved lives and this one should be no different.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a giant step in the correct direction of putting people first. But work to improve our human infrastructure remains. The federal budget reconciliation bill is set to provide social supports like expanded universal pre-K, child care, tax credits for working families, health care insurance improvements, housing, college loan reforms, and changes to immigration. My own personal favorite is the coverage for hearing aids. Being a lifetime wearer of hearing aids, I know how difficult this is for families and seniors to afford. All these policies are needed if we are going to give everyone the chance to take advantage of the physical infrastructure changes. It will also go a long way to alleviating systemic disadvantages to our communities of color by making health and well-being the priority. At this stage, it is vital that we rethink what our actual definition of “infrastructure” really is. Oxford Dictionary defines infrastructure as, “the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed for the operation of a society or enterprise.” In our complex, modern world, isn’t it time we acknowledged the idea that infrastructure is so much more than roads, bridges, and trains?

Opportunity is on the horizon. We have work to do to make sure that all these dollars add up to an improved quality of life, safety and security.

Keep close to your email and social media channels for notices about Town Halls that will be held on the infrastructure act, along with information about the impacts these measures will have on your neighborhood.