At halfway mark, majority of infrastructure law funds yet to be spent

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Dive Brief:

  • Halfway through the five-year Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, less than half — 38% — of the funding has been announced, according to the White House. That’s a 13.5% increase in the past 6 months, an indication that the process is ramping up but still lags. 
  • To date, $454 billion of the IIJA’s $1.2 trillion has been announced for a range of projects like the Brent Spence Bridge between Cincinnati and Covington, Kentucky. Announced funding, captured from agency press releases, is preliminary and non-binding, whereas awarded funding represents actual obligations, per the White House. Half of the IIJA’s funding, or $550 billion, goes to new initiatives. 
  • The White House also released an updated map of the more than 56,000 projects and awards that are identified or now underway at 4,500-plus localities around the country. That’s up 40% from 40,000 projects six months ago.

Dive Insight:

The IIJA and other federal funding has buoyed the infrastructure sector amid slowdowns elsewhere in the building industry in recent years. Infrastructure spending continues to build in 2024 as $1.8 trillion in federal grants, loans, tax credits and other financial incentives seep into the economy, according to analysis from S&P Global, a financial information provider. 

The largest portion of IIJA money is designated for road and bridge construction, according to White House data analyzed by CNBC, followed by rail, broadband, power and water projects. So far, improvements have launched on 165,000 miles of roads and more than 9,400 bridge repair projects are underway thanks to the IIJA, according to the White House.

However, inflation has sapped the buying power of the law, according to S&P. Elevated prices for materials, wage increases and continued skilled trades worker shortages have resulted in the funding carrying less bang-for-the-infrastructure buck than what policymakers envisioned.

Many of the country’s infrastructure systems suffer from long standing underinvestment, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE gave U.S. infrastructure a “C minus” on its most recent report card, with roads, bridges, airports and water systems rated in “poor” to “mediocre” condition. Many need updates to withstand the impact of more frequent and intense extreme weather due to climate change.

The goal of the IIJA is to start to address these repair and resilience gaps, and recent Biden administration investments have kept the state of infrastructure getting worse, an ASCE study released in May found. 

Yet beyond inflation, changes in the infrastructure landscape — including supply chain problems, stricter emission standards in the energy sector and extreme weather — have raised baseline spending needs, ASCE found. The organization warns that progress realized from the IIJA will end along with the funding in 2026.

“In recent years, though funding levels have improved, the infrastructure needs for various sectors have grown and evolved,” ASCE wrote in its Bridging the Gap report. “These changes have effects on the anticipated investment needs and, therefore, the size of the funding gaps for each sector.”

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