The competition for federal grants just got a big breath of fresh air with President Joe Biden’s signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Monday. It promises to bring some exciting projects to life in Santa Barbara County, like new fiber technology high-speed broadband from Cuyama to the Chumash reservation that has long been needed, filling in the zero-emission gaps between Ventura and San Luis Obispo, and getting the last two and a half miles of the Highway 101 project funded and completed, Lauren Bianchi Klemann described, spokesperson for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments.
Joining President Biden at the signing ceremony on Monday for this much-anticipated “roads and bridges” bill was Santa Barbara Congressmember Salud Carbajal, who called it a once-in-a-generation investment to improve every American’s quality of life. Locally, “It will provide funding the Central Coast needs to expand internet connectivity, fix dilapidated roads and bridges, and improve our public transit and clean water infrastructure,” Carbajal said.
Not to be confused with the slightly larger social infrastructure bill — which Democrats are targeting to pass through the reconciliation process — this bill provides $25.3 billion for California’s federal-aid highway programs, $9.45 billion to the state for public transportation over the next five years, $1.5 billion to California for airports, and $8.5 billion in a national weatherization program to reduce energy costs. Santa Barbara’s airport is looking forward to the possibilities, said spokesperson Deanna Zachrisson, as it has electric shuttles to transport passengers between the economy parking lot on Hollister and the terminal on its wish list.
According to the White House, the $1.2 trillion in the bill will add about two million jobs per year across the coming decade as the projects get underway. Investments in clean energy transmission and the infrastructure to support electric vehicles — with resources for more electric school and public transportation buses in the package — are part of the monumental bill, not only in its size but also in the fact that 13 Republicans in the House and 19 in the Senate voted for it.