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Passage of Infrastructure Legislation Is Important — But Implementation Is Key

On November 15, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law. This historic legislation represents the culmination of months of bipartisan negotiations between lawmakers in both chambers of Congress and members of the Administration. The trillion-dollar investment includes more than $550 billion in new funding for roads, bridges, airports, water systems, and other critical infrastructure. The IIJA is the most significant infrastructure investment in generations and offers the opportunity to transform how policymakers and federal agencies ensure the long-term reliability and safety of America’s infrastructure systems.

For Association of Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP) members, the IIJA most notably:

• Makes the largest investment in bridges (nearly $40 billion) since the creation of the U.S. interstate system;

• Invests more than $39 billion into public transit;

• Provides $16.6 billion in funding for waterway infrastructure (such as port infrastructure improvements);

• Emphasizes the need for pipeline safety and repair;

• Increases funding for freight rail and safety; and

•Includes provisions to replace lead service lines across the country.

A complete summary of the legislation can be found here.

Now that the IIJA has been signed into law, the process and work can officially begin. The most important step to fundamentally change how America manages infrastructure programs is implementing the legislation. To fulfill the vision of this historic legislation, policymakers must ensure that funding and policies are implemented in a manner that promotes fiduciary responsibility, asset sustainability, environmental protection, and public safety. Much like an active corrosion plan, a robust implementation program is key to asset transformation, integrity, and sustainability.

To lead these efforts, coordination between local governments, state governments, the federal government, and industry experts is key. Along with those experts, the Biden Administration must also work with business leaders to utilize available best practices and standards. To this end, President Biden named former Louisiana Lieutenant Governor and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator.

Landrieu previously led efforts to revitalize New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. In his new role, Landrieu will coordinate efforts between federal agencies to ensure implementation is streamlined, taxpayer investment is protected, and jobs are created. In a statement regarding the announcement, Landrieu noted, “Our work will require strong partnerships across the government and with state and local leaders, business, and labor to create good-paying jobs and rebuild America for the middle class.”

For implementation to be successful, it’s crucial for industries such as those represented by AMPP be a part of the overall process. AMPP represents the largest global community of corrosion and protective coatings professionals who are best qualified to provide policymakers with the knowledge and resources needed to ensure high-performance materials are used to build and maintain sustainable infrastructure. By actively engaging in this process, AMPP members have the opportunity to advance materials performance to protect society, assets, and the environment. Every member’s voice is essential for these efforts, and, unfortunately, we’ve seen what happens when our experts don’t have a seat at the table.

AMPP will continue actively engaging policymakers and partnering with other stakeholders as necessary to ensure coatings and corrosion planning are the foundation to implementation of the IIJA. To be successful, though, we need your help.

The more policymakers we reach, the further we can spread our message. No voice is more important to policymakers than those of their constituents. AMPP members nationwide have the power to work together to impact public policy and change how society prevents and controls the detrimental impact of corrosion.

There are several ways to get involved. In the coming weeks, AMPP will be leading a communications campaign to increase its presence with policymakers and leaders throughout the country. The campaign will include grassroots efforts with state and local policymakers, letters to editors of local newspapers, and meetings with state officials, including state departments of transportation. We need your help to reach the decisionmakers in your community. To this end, we will provide resources and tools to AMPP members to ensure this process is simple and impactful.

In the coming weeks, we will also provide you with detailed information about what the bill means for your bottom line and additional ways for you to get involved in legislative efforts.

For coatings and corrosion professionals, there are potentially billions of dollars available for projects throughout the country. From corrosion control efforts in drinking water to the bridge investment program, it is important for you to know where the opportunities will be and how you can be prepared to harness them when the time comes. To help with these efforts, we will be hosting programs with industry experts to summarize the legislation and answer your questions on how to actively participate.

Some opportunities from the IIJA will take years to get started and others may happen in the nearer term; regardless, we must remain actively engaged to advance our mission and fundamentally change how America views materials performance and sustainability.

To learn more about the IIJA or AMPP’s ongoing advocacy efforts, please email me at Adam.Christopher@ampp.org.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2021 issue of Infrastructure Insights. Republished with permission.

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