Elected officials hope infrastructure deal will bring funds to the Mid-South

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - According to reports, $109 billion of the more than trillion dollar infrastructure deal is set aside for roads and bridges.

Many elected officials and the business community have spent years trying to get a third bridge built over the Mississippi River into Memphis, but it’s unlikely this bill will get the ball rolling on that effort.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday an infrastructure deal had been reached with a group of bi-partisan senators.

Details of the plan, including the funding structure is still unclear. But we do know the $1.2 trillion plan includes money for things like broadband, airports, roads, electric car chargers, and improving the water and power systems.

“It ought to be bipartisan anyway. There’s no Democratic or Republican position on bridges being safe,” said WMC political analyst Michael Nelson.

Nelson says Memphis should be high on the priority list to get funding, considering it’s such a major logistical hub.

Congressman Steve Cohen has been a big proponent of building a third bridge over the Mississippi River into Memphis. However, he says it’s not likely money from the infrastructure bill could be used to build a new bridge.

“Not very likely. The money that will be there will be for repairs for bridges that currently exist,” said Cohen.

Repairs to the I-40 bridge will likely be complete by the time this bill is passed, and that’s a big.

This bill still has to pass both the House and Senate.

Democrats want what was originally included in the bill, such as childcare, workforce training, and care giving for the elderly.

“That’s a part of infrastructure, it really is. Education is a part of infrastructure, healthcare. So, there’s a lot of need in America. We’ve fallen behind and this is areas where we need to boldly go forth in a new area and kind of make amends for some mistakes we’ve made in the past,” said Cohen.

In terms of getting that third bridge, Cohen says that’s really up to the state to get that project off the ground. He says an environmental study would need to be completed first.

Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris released the following statement regarding the bipartisan infrastructure deal being reached:

“We are encouraged to hear that President Biden has reached a bipartisan agreement to provide the largest long-term investment in our country’s infrastructure in decades. We are hopeful that this agreement could lead to additional funds for critical projects here in Shelby County, particularly around public transit, access to high speed internet, and of course investment in bridge infrastructure.”

Judd Deere, a spokesperson for Sen. Bill Hagerty, released this statement:

“As Senator Hagerty continues to review the infrastructure deal framework, he applauds the work of his colleagues for advancing this issue in a serious way, but he was extremely discouraged to see President Biden flip flop and threaten ultimatums with not signing this bipartisan package if he doesn’t receive the partisan, $6 trillion spending spree that Democrats are going to use to advance the Green New Deal, punitive tax hikes, and other items on their anti-business wishlist at the same time. The Senator believes Congress has an opportunity to focus on hard infrastructure—roads, bridges, waterways—that offers a real return on investment, but will Democrats and President Biden seize it or squander it? That’s the question.”

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