NEW ORLEANS — It’s the largest investment in roads, bridges, ports, water, and rail in decades.
Monday, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act bill on the south lawn of the White House. Among those looking on were Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Sen. Bill Cassidy a Republican who helped negotiate the final version of the legislation and New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
“Our infrastructure used to be rated the best in the world,” Biden said. “Now, according to the world economic forum we are ranked 13th in the world. Well, that’s about to change. Things are going to turn around in a big way.”
President Biden asked former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu to join his administration as a senior adviser responsible for coordinating the implementation of the law.
“He’ll have full access to every tool the federal government has to get it done,” Biden said. “We have the high obligation and responsibility to make sure this money is used wisely and used well.”
The White House cited Landrieu’s experience as lieutenant governor and mayor and the key role he played in helping New Orleans recover after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“We are about to make the largest long-term investment in our infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century,” Landrieu said in a written statement. “This is a once-in-a-generation investment in our infrastructure and will grow the economy, enhance our competitiveness, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.”
Mayor Cantrell released this statement, “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is a once-in-a-generation investment that will grow our economy and invest in our aging infrastructure. Our future just got brighter in New Orleans with this investment.”
The president visited the century-old New Orleans water treatment plant in May to help promote the infrastructure plan. The law is expected to send about $7.25 billion in guaranteed funding to Louisiana.
That includes $4.8 billion for roads, $1 billion for bridges, $470 million for public transportation, $580 million for water systems and $380 million for other segments like airports, broadband and electric vehicle charging stations.
The president said the law also builds on our resilience so the next storm, drought, wildfire, or hurricane can be dealt with.
“After Hurricane Ida, I see the distinguished governor from Louisiana is over there, I saw him stand up, I went down to see and we went through and saw the damage there,” Biden said. “They had 179 mile per hour winds at top speed in Louisiana.”
State Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson was also at the bill signing ceremony.
“We’re going to see unprecedented levels of funding contributions and investment in the state,” Wilson said. “I am so grateful for Senator Cassidy, Congressman Carter, I’m with him right now as we speak. I’m just elated that we’re going to see this investment for the first time in the country.”
Congressman Troy Carter, D-Louisiana is also excited about the infusion of infrastructure dollars. He and Senator Cassidy were the only members of the Louisiana delegation to vote for the bill.
“Great for Louisiana,” Carter said. “Great day for America. This is going to be life changing.”
The infrastructure funding is expected to be distributed over the next 5 years.