President Joe Biden traveled to New Hampshire on Tuesday to sell his new infrastructure law, standing on what the state calls a “structurally deficient” bridge to deliver remarks outlining how the $1.2 trillion package will help repair the nation’s roads and bridges.
“Thanks to the infrastructure law, we’re going to make the most significant investment to modernize our roads and our bridges in 70 years,” Biden said in Woodstock, New Hampshire, a day after signing the bipartisan bill into law at a White House ceremony attended by both Republicans and Democrats.
“The law is going to speed up the replacement of bridges by at least a year and allow New Hampshire to invest in other critical infrastructure needs,” he added.
Though the law isn’t as big and sweeping as the President had initially hoped it would be, it delivers on a key campaign promise of Biden’s and is something past presidents have attempted and failed to achieve. It also comes at a critical time for Biden, who is facing some of the lowest approval ratings of his presidency.
The bill’s passage, Biden said, shows that despite what “the cynics” say, “Democrats and Republicans, we can work together. We can deliver real results. We can deliver real people results if they’re gonna affect their lives.”
The NH 175 bridge over the Pemigewasset River, where Biden stood, has for years been identified by the state as a “red list” bridge, meaning it was found to be structurally deficient after inspection. The White House says the New Hampshire Department of Transportation will use funds from the infrastructure law to “fully rehabilitate the historic structure” for about $4.5 million.
During his remarks from snowy New Hampshire, the President explained how the law will remedy the state’s approach to repairing the bridge with temporary solutions. He also underscored why bridges like the NH 175 are so important to local communities.
“This may not seem like a big bridge, but it saves lives and solves problems. Let me tell you why,” Biden told the audience. “Businesses depend on it, like the local propane company or the sand and gravel company or the logging truck. Public services depend on it, school buses, waste water trucks crossing every day. It’s essential to the Woodstock fire station, about a quarter mile away. Without this bridge, as I said earlier, it’s a 10 mile detour just to get to the other side.”
Biden also explained how the law will help establish infrastructure for broadband to make internet more accessible to New Hampshire residents, how it will invest significant funds toward public transportation and passenger transit, as well as how it will fund extreme weather resiliency projects.
“Hurricane Irene hit New Hampshire really hard. And you all know that every winter, power will go out from ice storms. Well from 2010 to 2020, extreme weather events cost New Hampshire $500 million dollars in damages. Nationwide, extreme weather events cost this year $99 billion in damages,” the President said. “This law builds back our bridges, our water systems, our power lines, our grids for better and stronger resilience.”
The White House told reporters ahead of the visit that New Hampshire will receive $1.1 billion for federal-aid highways, $418 million to improve water infrastructure, $225 million for bridges, $125 million to improve public transportation and $17 million to expand electric vehicle charging.
Overall, the legislation will deliver $550 billion of new federal investments in America’s infrastructure over five years, including money for roads, bridges, mass transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways. The package includes a $65 billion investment in improving the nation’s broadband infrastructure and invests tens of billions of dollars in improving the electric grid and water systems. Another $7.5 billion would go to building a nationwide network of plug-in electric vehicle chargers, according to the bill text.
Officials are hoping the law, which Biden and others in the administration are hitting the road to sell, will give the President a bump and whip up some much-needed momentum ahead of next year’s critical midterm elections, as Americans face rising consumer prices, inflation and shortages caused by the supply chain crisis.
The legislation is the first part of Biden’s two-part economic agenda. The bipartisan infrastructure package focuses on “hard” infrastructure like roads and bridges, and Democrats will now turn to the larger package that focuses on what the President calls “human” infrastructure, which includes investments for family care, to address the climate crisis and expand access to health care.
That second piece of legislation faces an uncertain fate in Congress amid clashes between progressives and moderates.
The President on Tuesday expressed confidence that package would soon make it to his desk to sign into law.
“I’m confident that the House is going to pass this bill. And when it passes, it’ll go to the Senate,” Biden said. “I think we’ll get it passed within a week. And it’s fully paid for.”
Congress returned to Washington Monday after a week-long recess to a bevy of critical issues before the holidays, including passing Biden’s broader economic and climate agenda, funding the government before a December 3 deadline, and raising the debt limit.
This story has been updated with remarks from President Joe Biden.
Nikki Carvajal contributed to this report.