By John Haughey | The Center Square
Florida needs to invest nearly $22 billion in drinking water infrastructure, nearly 1.5 million Floridians are “rent-burdened,” and more than 400 bridges and 3,560 miles of highway in the Sunshine State are “in poor condition.”
That is among Florida infrastructure needs identified by the White House in state-by-state summaries published in anticipation of a Monday afternoon meeting between President Joe Biden and Republican and Democratic lawmakers regarding his proposed $2.3 trillion ‘American Job Plan’ infrastructure package.
“For decades, infrastructure in Florida has suffered from a systemic lack of investment. The need for action is clear,” Florida’s state summary begins.
Florida received a ‘C’ grade in the Infrastructure Report Card, which spans 12 categories. Utah’s C-plus was the highest grade. Puerto Rico’s D-minus grade was the lowest. Among findings:
• ROADS AND BRIDGES: There are 408 bridges and more than 3,564 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 11.6 percent in Florida and, on average, each driver pays $425 per year in costs due to driving on bad roads.
“The ‘American Jobs Plan’ will devote more than $600 billion to transform our nations' transportation infrastructure and make it more resilient, including $115 billion repairing roads and bridges,” according to the summary.
According to an analysis also posted Monday by TRIP, a Washington, D.C., infrastructure research nonprofit, 31 percent of Florida’s major roads are in “poor or mediocre condition.”
“A total of 3 percent of Florida’s bridges are rated in poor/structurally deficient condition, meaning there is significant deterioration to the major components of the bridge,” TRIP states. “A total of 35 percent of the state’s bridges are at least 50 years old, an age when many bridges require significant rehabilitation or replacement.”
Approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in Florida in industries such as tourism, retail sales, agriculture and manufacturing “are completely dependent on the state’s transportation network,” TRIP calculates.
• PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Sixteen percent of trains and other transit vehicles used for mass transit in Florida are “past useful life.” The ‘American Jobs Plan’ will invest $85 billion in public transit.
• RESILIENCY: From 2010-20, Florida has experienced 22 “extreme weather events” that caused $100 billion in damages. Biden is calling for $50 billion to improve infrastructure resiliency.
• DRINKING WATER: Florida’s drinking water infrastructure will require $21.9 billion in additional funding over the next 20 years. The ‘American Jobs Plan’ includes $111 billion for water infrastructure.
• HOUSING: More than 1.445 million Floridians are “rent burdened,” meaning they spend more than 30 percent of income on rent. Biden proposes investing $200 billion in affordable housing.
• BROADBAND: Six percent of Floridians live in areas without broadband and 51.1 percent of state residents live in areas with only one internet provider. The ‘American Jobs Plan’ will invest $100 billion in broadband improvements.
• CHILD CARE: Thirty-eight percent of Florida families live in “childcare deserts.”
• MANUFACTURING: About 382,000 Floridians, 4.2 percent of the state’s workforce, work in manufacturing, which accounts for about 5 percent of Florida’s economic output. The American Job’s Plan will invest $300 billion in manufacturing.
• HOME ENERGY: An average low-income Florida family spends 8-10 percent of its income on home energy costs. The ‘American Jobs Plan’ will invest in the Weatherization Assistance Program and expand tax credits to support home energy upgrades.
• CLEAN ENERGY JOBS: As of 2019, more than 166,000 Floridians were working in “clean energy.” The ‘American Jobs Plan’ invests in “creating more good-paying union jobs advancing clean energy production.”
• VETERANS HEALTH: There are more than 1.5 million veterans in Florida, including 53 percent over the age of 65. Biden is calling for $18 billion to improve Veterans Administration (VA) health care facilities.
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