Some much needed funding for multiple projects across the Central Valley will be headed this way, following the Friday, Nov. 5 passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill through the House of Representatives. Rep. Josh Harder, who represents the Oakdale-Riverbank-Escalon area in the 10th Congressional District, helped negotiate the bill alongside 30 Democrats and 30 Republicans as part of the ‘Problem Solvers Caucus.’ The bill will bring massive new investments to the Central Valley to repair roads and bridges, build new water infrastructure, and fight and prevent wildfires. Harder worked with his colleagues to insure that the bill would have money specifically for water storage alongside its many historic investments.
“Decade after decade, we’ve watched our Valley get passed over while billions flowed into San Francisco and LA. This bill is the investment our community needs, and I’m proud to have helped get it done,” said Harder. “Folks in the Valley sent me to Congress to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to deliver new jobs and more funding to our community. That’s exactly what we’ve accomplished today.”
In California alone there are 1,536 bridges and over 14,220 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 14.6 percent in California and on average, each driver pays $799 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. From 2010 to 2020, California experienced 16 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $50-1000 billion in damages. Over the next 20 years, California’s drinking water infrastructure will require $51 billion in additional funding. In the 10th congressional district specifically, which covers much of Stanislaus County and parts of San Joaquin County, there are 119 structurally deficient bridges, up from 113 in 2019. An estimated $423.2 million in repairs are needed.
Specifically, the bipartisan infrastructure bill will:
Invest in California’s roads and bridges
• Send $110 billion of new funds for roads, bridges, and major projects across the country
• Send $40 billion specifically for new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, which is the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
Deliver historic federal funding for water infrastructure
• Invest $8.3 billion in Western Water infrastructure, the largest investment in the resilience of physical and natural systems in American history
• Invest $1.15 billion specifically in water storage to fight the devastating effects of droughts in the Central Valley
Help firefighters fight and prevent wildfires
• Invest $3.4 billion in wildland firefighting efforts which is nearly three times CalFire’s yearly budget
• Convert 1,000 seasonal wildland firefighters to full time firefighters and give every federal firefighter a pay raise
• Clean 10 million acres of land at highest risk of fire/closest to where people live
• Invest $80 million in new supercomputers to predict wildfires, $100 million in sensors to track them as soon as they start, and $20 million to launch new satellites to track fires as they move
• Start a first of its kind $50 million fund to help local governments buy “slip-on tanker units” that can quickly convert a fleet of normal government vehicles into fire engines for emergencies.