Democrats and moderate Senate Republicans reached a compromise version of President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan, which was expected to be signed by President Obama by press time. According to the Associated Press, the following are highlights of the nearly $789 billion bill that may stimulate the AEC industry:
$46 billion for transportation projects, including $27 billion for highway and bridge construction and repair; $8.4 billion for mass transit; $8 billion for construction of high-speed railways and $1.3 billion for Amtrak; $4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers; $4 billion for public housing improvements; $6.4 billion for clean and drinking water projects; $7 billion to bring broadband Internet service to underserved areas.
About $50 billion for energy programs, focused chiefly on efficiency and renewable energy, including $5 billion to weatherize modest-income homes; $6.4 billion to clean up nuclear weapons production sites; $11 billion toward a so-called "smart electricity grid" to reduce waste; $13.9 billion to subsidize loans for renewable energy projects; $6.3 billion in state energy efficiency and clean energy grants; and $4.5 billion make federal buildings more energy efficient.
$47 billion in state fiscal relief to prevent cuts in state aid to school districts, with great flexibility to use the funds for school modernization and repair.
$3 billion for the National Science Foundation for basic science and engineering research; $1 billion for NASA; $1.6 billion research in areas such as climate science, biofuels, high-energy physics, and nuclear physics.
While falling short of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s estimated five-year investment need of $2.2 trillion, the influx of money to public works projects will be a start to improving our "D" grade infrastructure, as reported this month in ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.
Check it out! The American Council of Engineering Companies has launched an Economic Stimulus Resource Center on its website to help engineering professionals keep up on the latest news regarding this much-anticipated funding package.