Infrastructure

Tucsonans should expect to see more than band aid-solutions to the city’s “crumbling infrastructure” thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), signed by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021. 

The historic investment towards the rebuilding of infrastructure in America, access to high-speed internet, clean energy, higher paying jobs and more celebrated its six-month anniversary earlier this month. 

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero and White House Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu held a press call to highlight its investments in southern Arizona on Wednesday, May 25. 

“In the last six months, [we’ve] just gotten $110 billion out of the door, there’s another $100 billion coming, we have 4,300 projects that have been funded in 3,200 counties in all 50 states,” Landrieu said. 

This bill also contains a $13.2 billion set aside for tribal communities. 

The state of Arizona has received a total of $1.8 billion in funding, with more than 70% meant for transportation and almost 30% for climate, energy and environment-related projects.

Under the infrastructure program, the City of Tucson intends to apply for funding through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant Program to redo the “structurally deficient” 22nd Street Bridge, which has lacked the capacity to carry ambulances, transit buses and heavy trucks, Romero said. 

The city is also preparing to apply for a rapid transit line to expand access to alternative transportation, reduce carbon emissions and potentially expand the modern streetcar. Romero recalled the $63 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant the city received under the Obama administration, which has led to $4 billion in private investment.

“One of the greatest responsibilities of [the] government is investing in our infrastructure, because public infrastructure leverages private investment,” Romero said.

Another component of the new infrastructure program is investment in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure, which has allowed the city to purchase 10 electric vehicles for the transit fleet and partner with private utility company Tucson Electric Power, which has contributed towards the EV infrastructure and Tucson’s existing EV roadmap. 

“On the federal level, there are two $5 billion pots of money that are designed to provide battery-operated school buses and another $5 billion for transit authorities to have loans that will be forgivable or direct grants to buy new buses across the country,” Landrieu said. 

The infrastructure dollars will also support the city’s PFAS remediation, or the removal of toxic substances found in water, in addition to the $1 million EPA Brownfield grant received to redevelop economically and culturally low-income communities. 

Romero supports the possibility of connecting Tucson and Phoenix, with a $66 billion transportation investment in Amtrak. The highly anticipated project would decrease traffic on the I-10, see more development between the two cities and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Many of these projects are ready to go, such as the 22nd Street bridge, which is “shovel-ready,” according to Romero. Others will require long-term design, engineering and bidding. 

Tucsonans should also expect to see more road repair near residential areas throughout the next 10 years following voters’ overwhelming approval of Proposition 411 on May 17.

“We’re ready to go, we have a long list,” Romero said.