California, Bay Area expected to be big beneficiaries of infrastructure bill

California and the Bay Area are expected to be big beneficiaries of the infrastructure bill.

All manner of transportation projects, like road improvement and bridge repair, are expected to get a sizable chunk of infrastructure money.

So, passage of the $1.2 trillion plan is welcome news to people like Alfredo Pedroza, who chairs the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

"It's going to be an incredible opportunity for this region, and I think it's going to transform communities and counties. So we're very excited about our future, said Pedroza.

The MTC recently approved its Plan Bay Area 2050, which outlines a litany of more than a trillion dollars worth of projects to improve housing, the economy, transportation and the environment.

Governments and agencies can now begin competing for the money to turn those plans into projects.

"We need resources in our local communities and this is going to deliver on it," said Pedroza.

Governor Newsom says the influx of funds will support the modernization of state infrastructure and create jobs.

Highlighting a few items, the governor’s office says the state can expect:

  • $25.3 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs
  • $4.2 billion for bridge replacement and repairs over five years
  • $84 million over five years for wildfire protection
  • $3.5 billion to improve water infrastructure and ensure clean, safe drinking water
  • $100 million, at least, to improve broadband coverage across the state.

"I think what the pandemic taught us all is that we need to have a resilient network, that's dependable, whether it's telehealth, telework or virtual or distant learning, we need a broadband connectivity that supports our community," said Pedroza.

With the annual threat of wildfires and the looming issue of sea level rise due to climate change, resilience is a word now on the tips of tongues of planners.

Infrastructure money is expected to help to that end as well.

"Resiliency means being prepared after fires and wildfires," said Pedroza. "Resiliency means being prepared for the droughts and being able to have plans in place and access to resources to be better prepared. And I think that's what you're seeing in the Plan Bay Area."

There are lots of plans and now new money will be available to pay for some of them.

Local officials say they will have to compete to get their fair share, but they expect to succeed, and hope to see money going into state and local coffers beginning some time next year.