Puerto Rico stands to receive well over $1 billion if federal infrastructure bill becomes law

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico is expected to receive some $900 million to rebuild roads and highways, $225 million for bridge replacement and millions more for internet and traffic projects if the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday becomes law.

The information was provided by Gretchen Sierra Zorita, associate director for Puerto Rico and the Territories at the White House, in a posting via social media.

The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to the bill, which seeks to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, delivering a key component of President Biden’s agenda.

The proposed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is the largest infusion of federal cash in infrastructure in over a decade, would provide huge levels of funding for the modernization of the nation’s power grid and for projects to better manage climate risks, as well as pour billions of dollars into the repair and replacement of aging public works projects.

Under the bill, Puerto Rico may be able to compete for the $12.5 billion under the Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion in national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.

The legislation also seeks to improve transportation options for Americans. Nearly 5% of transit vehicles on the island are past useful life. Based on a funding formula, Puerto Rico would expect to receive nearly $455 million over five years.

The bill would set aside $7.5 billion in investments to build out the first ever national network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the United States. Puerto Rico should expect to receive $13.6 million over five years to support the expansion of its EV charging network, and the island would also have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding dedicated to EV charging in the bill.

Nearly 40% of Puerto Rican households do not have an internet subscription. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Puerto Rico would receive a minimum allocation of $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the island.

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