In North Carolina, 158 infrastructure projects have been announced so far, and more are in the works. Here’s a look at the work that’s being done in the Tar Heel State and how it helps North Carolinians.
In 2021, President Biden signed the historic $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, delivering on a key piece of his economic agenda. Since then, billions of dollars have been funneled into all 50 states in order to upgrade highways, transit systems, water systems, and more.
In North Carolina, $4.5 billion in funding has been announced so far, and more is on the way. Here’s a look at the work that’s being done in the Tar Heel State and how it helps North Carolinians.
Roads, Bridges, and Public Transit
In North Carolina, there are 1,460 bridges and over 3,116 miles of highway in poor condition. According to the White House, $3 billion in funding from the law has been allocated to North Carolina roads, bridges, roadway safety, and other major projects as of March.
It’s estimated that North Carolina’s deteriorated roads and bridges cost drivers a total of $10.3 billion per year.
One effort aimed at improving North Carolina’s roads and bridges is the RAISE program. Grants awarded through this program “help project sponsors at the state and local levels, including municipalities, tribal governments, counties, and others complete critical freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects.” So far, $60.2 million has been awarded in North Carolina through this program.
One project receiving some of that funding is the Partnership for Active Regional Transportation and Neighborhood Equity Project. This effort is focused on reconstructing and revitalizing the Main Street Corridor and Charlotte Road in Spindale. The project will “transform this area into a complete street” from Maple Street in Rutherfordton to Oakland Road.
North Carolina is also getting funds from the INFRA program, which awards grants for freight and highway projects that “improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas.”
The state of North Carolina has so far received $100 million through this program. This funding is being used for a network of projects throughout the state, including improvements to Route 70 and Interstate 95.
The state has also received $10.4 million in funding through the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program in 2022 and 2023. These grants support projects to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas to increase connectivity, improve safety and reliability, generate regional economic growth, and improve quality of life. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is using its funding to expand on-demand transit services for up to 11 rural communities across the state, in places such as Alamance and Randolph counties.
North Carolina has also been allocated $175.8 million to improve public transportation options across the state in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. This funding will most directly affect non-white households, which are 3.4 times more likely to commute via public transportation in the state of North Carolina.
Clean Buses, Energy, and Power
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is also set to invest billions of dollars into clean public transit and school buses over the next five years. Half of that money will be used to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. Clean-energy buses reduce greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change and will also reduce health risks among children and the surrounding communities.
To date, North Carolina has been awarded $12.2 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program, which provides school districts rebates to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models to reduce harmful emissions from older buses. Several communities in North Carolina received grants thanks to the program, including Whiteville and Halifax.
Public transportation services in Durham, Asheville, Concord, and Fayetteville were also separately awarded $11 million to improve bus service and clean transit buses through the Department of Transportation’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program.
The infrastructure law is also set to upgrade the power infrastructure by “making the grid more resilient and building thousands of miles of new transmission lines to deliver clean, affordable electricity.” There’s additional funding to weatherize homes to improve their energy efficiency. This would lower energy costs for impacted households by an average of $372 per year, according to the Department of Energy.
Airports, Ports, and Waterways
To date, North Carolina has received approximately $106.7 million for replacing and modernizing airport infrastructure at airports, including the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
According to the White House, this will help the United States become more competitive economically and create jobs. And as Airport World, the magazine of the Airports Council International, notes “ensuring that an airport has the necessary infrastructure to support the desired level of air service, including terminal facilities, runways, taxiways and air traffic control systems are crucial for being able to accommodate growth in passenger demand.”
The state’s ports and waterways are also in dire need of investment. Roughly $51.3 million has been allocated to North Carolina so far so that the state can address maintenance backlogs and reduce congestion and emissions near ports, such as the Port of Virginia. Ultimately, this will help the U.S. move goods more quickly, at a lower cost.
There’s no arguing that clean drinking water is essential. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including the first-ever dedicated federal funding to replace lead service lines and address dangerous PFAS chemicals, according to the White House.
As of March, $261 million in funds have been allocated for North Carolina to provide residents with clean and safe drinking water through the Environmental Protection Agency.
Over 33% of these funds are going towards lead pipe and service line replacement throughout the state. According to the National Resources Defense Council, there are roughly 82,000 lead service lines in the state of North Carolina.
Another $55.3 million will also go towards safe drinking water investments.
An estimated four million North Carolinians don’t have access to reliable broadband service, according to North Carolina Health News.
This affects rural residents the most, as many of them live in communities that tend to suffer from a lower supply of health professionals. Under Biden’s infrastructure law, North Carolina will receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help ensure high-speed internet access across the state.
Experts also estimate that 1.65 million households in North Carolina are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), although only 702,651 households are enrolled so far. This program cuts internet bills by up to $30 per month, or $75 for households on tribal lands. It also provides a one-time $100 discount off a connected device.
In addition to the above measures, the Biden administration is working with internet providers to offer high-speed internet plans that are fully covered by the ACP. This means that most eligible households in North Carolina would be able to get high-speed internet for free.
Electric vehicles are quickly becoming a way of life for many Americans. While just 7% of U.S. adults say they currently own an electric or hybrid vehicle, according to the Pew Research Center, about 39% of Americans say that the next time they purchase a vehicle, they are at least somewhat likely to seriously consider electric.
The infrastructure law has so far allocated $39.4 million in 2022 and 2023 to North Carolina to build out a network of EV chargers across the state. Reducing gas emissions by transitioning to EVs is crucial to addressing the climate crisis, and that transition will create a crucial supply of new domestic manufacturing jobs, according to the White House.
North Carolina can expect to receive roughly $109 million over five years to support the expansion of electric vehicle charging.
Resilience and Legacy Pollution Cleanup
More broadly, one of the main aims of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is to address the climate crisis. Thousands of former industrial, chemical, and energy sites emit harmful pollutants into surrounding communities across the country and disproportionately impact communities of color.
The infrastructure law is set to reclaim abandoned mines, cap orphaned oil and gas wells, and clean up Superfund sites, which are areas that have been contaminated by hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed.
As of March, 38 sites in North Carolina were listed on the Superfund National Priority List, including the Cristex Drum site in Oxford which is receiving funding through the infrastructure bill.
To date, North Carolina has been allocated approximately $144.2 million for improving “infrastructure resilience.” This investment will help the state work against pressing challenges like the impacts of climate change, extreme weather events, and more.