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Friday, March 31, 2023

Congressman Swolwell touts new federal infrastructure funding

Congressman Swolwell Touts New Federal Infrastructure Funding

SAN LEANDRO — Standing near a bridge that has been rated “bad,” Congressman Eric Swalwell spoke Friday about how the Biden administration’s new bipartisan infrastructure bill will help modernize bridges, viaducts, roads and public transportation across California.

Under the new law, California will receive $4.2 billion over the next five years to upgrade some of its bridges, though it remains to be seen if this will include funding for the Washington Avenue Bridge near Lewelling Boulevard, where Swalwell spoke.

“Getting 68 votes in the Senate in this era of American politics is not easy, and so I think these senators recognize the need for it,” Swalwell said, referring to the final vote to pass the new law. “There is a compromise on both sides.”

The Washington Avenue Bridge connects the Swalwell area to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s area. Together they co-chair the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and Swolwell said they coordinate projects in this area.

“As a Bay Area delegation, we don’t destroy each other’s projects; we try to work together,” he said. “We’re a team because we understand that this is a mega-region that not only includes the great East Bay, South Bay, the peninsula and San Francisco, but also extends into San Joaquin County.”

Swalwell said he would give the Bay Area infrastructure an “F” rating if he made that decision. He’s not that far; The American Society of Civil Engineers rated California an infrastructure rating of “C-” in 2019, and US News & World Report ranked California 45th among states for transportation infrastructure.

The Washington Avenue Bridge was chosen as an example because, according to Swalwell, it is in one of the worst bridge conditions in the 15th Congressional District. About 31,000 cars pass through it every day. If the bridge, built in 1954, falls into disrepair and is declared unusable, all of these vehicles must be diverted.

“This is an investment in connecting the disconnected,” Swalwell said.

But the bridge is hardly unique. According to the American Highway and Transportation Association, 1,536 bridges in California are considered structurally deficient. They include the eastern section of Interstate 580, which runs through Lakeshore Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Oakland, with 182,000 people crossing daily.

The Infrastructure Bill does not only finance bridges. In California, about $25.3 billion is expected to be allocated to road projects and another $9.45 billion to improve public transportation.

Combined with Biden’s Build Back Better Framework (which Congress has yet to pass), the bipartisan infrastructure bill is expected to create 1.5 million jobs a year over the next 10 years. The Build Back Better Framework will provide funds to address issues such as climate action, family leave and social services. It’s a top item on the Biden administration’s agenda.

“The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains through long overdue improvements to our nation’s ports, airports, railroads, and highways,” the Biden administration wrote about the Build Back Better Framework program on the White House website. “This will help create high-paying union jobs and sustainable and equitable economic growth for all to succeed for decades to come.”

World Nation News Desk
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