When President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law this fall, America finally got the investment in roads, highways, and bridges—critical infrastructure for trucking—it’s needed for decades. Now with this new investment and spending the trucking industry will have the infrastructure it needs to help rebuild the North American economy.
Roads and bridges in desperate need of repair
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ report on America’s critical infrastructure, 42% of bridges are over 50 years old and 46,000 are structurally deficient. 1,720,00 miles of road (43% of the 4 million miles of road in the U.S.) are in poor or mediocre condition. If you want trucks to quickly and smoothly transverse these highways carrying goods, they have to travel on good roads.
In May, 2021 a critical bridge between Arkansas and Tennessee was closed because of cracks in the support beams. Closing the bridge added over an hour to what would have been an eight minute trip. By the time the bridge was reopened, the closure cost truckers over $200 million. This single example underscores the importance of the $550 billion in total infrastructure spending with $110 billion earmarked for roads, highways, and bridges.
“The prioritization of our nation’s fundamental transportation network will mitigate many of the supply chain challenges businesses are experiencing today,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay
As these monies begin to flow and projects get underway, the neglected road system will start to improve. But the law goes far beyond just roads and bridges, this infrastructure spending will bring in a raft of initiatives to revitalize the trucking industry and the economy as a whole.
“The $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill … has the potential to continue to serve not only as a backup to raise, but also extend the runway of this healthy rate environment for those [carriers] such as Daseke,” CEO Jonathan Shepko
Money for training and expanding the workforce
We know drivers are in short supply. The trucking industry is vital to the economy and global supply chains. To help encourage more young people and women to enter the industry, there are new apprenticeship programs and money to expand the workforce.
Money electric vehicles
As part of the infrastructure bill there are provisions for improving and expanding the EV charging across the country. While not directly related to large truck hauling now, this infrastructure is expected to encourage short and medium haul trucks as the industry begins to shift away from fossil fuels.
Nothing will happen overnight, but it’s a start
While we’re all excited about the new money for infrastructure, keep in mind that some of this money will be spread out over years. For example, the public transit industry is looking at investments and grants for the next five years. Also roads and bridges can’t be built in a few months or even years.
While exciting and a once-in-a-generation level of investment, we will have to be patient as road, bridge, EV charging, training programs, even rural broadband investments take shape over the next several years.
But as President Biden said when signing the bill into law:
“This law makes the most significant investment in roads and bridges in the past 70 years,” Biden said during the bill signing at the White House. “What that means is you’re going to be safer, and you’re going to get there faster and we’re going to have a whole hell of a lot … less pollution in the air.”
We have a lot to look forward to and the chance to have great reliable transportation infrastructure for generations to come.