In the last 11 months I have spent in the Senate, I have traveled thousands of miles around Arizona and talked with local leaders from big cities, small towns, rural regions and tribal nations.
Their messages to me have been consistent: our communities need a federal investment to upgrade our infrastructure, create good-paying jobs, and put more money in the pockets of working families.
In the Valley, I have specifically heard from leaders about the need to make getting around easier and more affordable with better roads and expanded public transit. I took this message with me to Washington and let it guide my way during negotiations with Republicans and Democrats to shape the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that the president just signed into law.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a down payment on the things that connect us — roads, bridges, transit, internet and more — and is going to put Arizona on a path not only to economic recovery, but prosperity.
More than ensuring a competitive edge for our country, it will be pivotal for Arizona’s workers. Studies have found that the bipartisan infrastructure bill would create roughly half a million new American manufacturing jobs in the next three years alone.
Thousands of jobs will be created right here in Arizona. And these jobs will be force-multipliers. As more and more companies choose Arizona to house their expanded operations, we will witness even more great-paying jobs.
And to accommodate this growth, we’ll need to overhaul our transportation systems. Thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure bill, thousands of Arizona’s 66,000 miles of public roads will undergo renovations and upgrades that will prepare them for the growing population for decades to come.
The bill also provides funding for 132 structurally deficient bridges throughout Arizona, and brings significant funding to public transit systems that connect Arizonans to jobs and to each other, including improvement and expansion projects for Valley Metro, which serves more than 65 million people every year.
It is equally important to give cities and towns the flexibility to start their own projects, which is why I also made sure that the bill created the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program. This program will help our localities kick start planning, environmental review and construction of projects of regional or national significance. For Arizona, this guarantees that our localities will have access to the necessary federal resources to begin work on expanding Interstate 10, a personal priority for me.
With over $110 billion for roads and highways in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we will be able to usher in a future where folks commuting between major hubs like Phoenix and Tucson aren’t stuck in a six hour traffic pile-up due to lane closures. And where public transit will be more accessible and produce less pollution.
And the bill allows us to act on such important priorities while taking into account our resilience and sustainability — words that often define living in Arizona. As Arizona continues to grow, we have to account for the impacts of climate change — both on our physical infrastructure and on our most vulnerable communities.
That’s why I included support for the “Healthy Street Initiative” to cool down even more of Phoenix’s pavements from the intense summer heat, investments in electric school buses and more electric vehicle charging, and an initiative to make our power grid more resilient to ensure that a heatwave doesn’t lead to power outages.
More than anything, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represents an opportunity to propel our communities forward. Working with Republicans and Democrats, we were able to pass this legislation that will ensure Arizona can be the best state to live, work and raise a family.
Editor’s note: Sen. Mark Kelly represents Arizona in the U.S. Senate.
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