Investing in Infrastructure
February 19, 2022
Written By Adam Buckallew
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by federal legislators in November 2021 is set to deliver a $1.2 trillion investment in the nation’s infrastructure over the next five years. The bill represents a historic, once-in-a-generation reinvestment in America’s roads, bridges, water and wastewater networks, ports, electric grid, dams, and more.
After decades of neglect and deferred maintenance, the nation’s infrastructure had fallen into disrepair. America currently ranks 13th in the world when it comes to the overall quality of infrastructure, and the American Society of Civil Engineers rated that nation’s infrastructure system at a C- grade. Investment in America’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure system is badly needed, and the bipartisan coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers that passed the infrastructure bill have provided the funds needed to modernize U.S. infrastructure at nearly every level.
Infrastructure is the backbone of healthy economies. Reliable infrastructure connects supply chains, ensures the efficient movement of goods, strengthens international competitiveness and improves quality of life for the citizens who depend upon it.
Farmers understand the necessity of infrastructure perhaps better than anyone. Without reliable roads, bridges and waterways, the exchange of agricultural goods and services can grind to a halt.
More than 42 percent of the 617,000 bridges nationwide are at least 50 years old, and 46,154, or 7.5 percent, of U.S. bridges are considered structurally deficient or in poor condition. Missouri is home to 2,190 bridges in poor condition—the fifth most in the country—according to the 2020 National Bridge Inventory. Missouri is set to receive $96.9 million in federal funding over the next year to address dilapidated bridges that have fallen into disrepair, and an additional $484 million will be released to the state over the next five years.
The locks, dams and navigation channels that allow barges to move agricultural exports and inputs up and down the nation’s rivers are another area that will receive crucial federal funding. Lock and Dam 25, located 45 miles north of St. Louis near Winfield, Mo., is one of many waterway projects set to receive money from the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Lock and dam modernization is a crucial priority for the farmers and agribusinesses that depend upon river transport to move soybeans, corn and other freight along the Mississippi River to export facilities near the Gulf of Mexico.
“Funding Lock and Dam 25 to completion is a huge deal to grain handlers, ag exporters and U.S. ag competitiveness as a whole,” said Bobby Frederick, senior vice president of legislative affairs and public policy at the National Grain and Feed Association.
The State of Missouri appears poised to make some infrastructure investments of its own. In his State of the State address, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson outlined infrastructure projects he submitted in his budget proposal to state lawmakers on Jan. 19. Parson called for $75 million for the state’s Transportation Cost-Share program, $100 million for improvements to low-volume roads and $400 million for broadband access. The Federal Communications Commission says more than 147,000 households or 400,000 Missourians lack access to broadband.
“Road and bridge repair and broadband expansion are not only important for every Missourian but are critical for our state’s number one industry, agriculture,” Parson said.