Infrastructure: On Solid Ground

A bedrock of commerce, transportation infrastructure is significant to location decisions.

By Anne Cosgrove
From the November/December 2022 Issue

States leveraged their fiscal year 2022 federal highway formula funds to jumpstart nearly 25,000 new improvement projects in communities across America during the first year of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a review of U.S. Treasury Department data through August 31 shows.

“A key takeaway from the Treasury data is that the bipartisan infrastructure law is working in year one as intended, with state transportation departments disbursing their funds and projects breaking ground,” said American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who reviewed and compiled the data for the report.

Infrastructure
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

“The economic and quality of life benefits of the infrastructure law will become even more apparent as funding continues in coming years,” added ARTBA Chair Paula Hammond, a WSP USA senior vice president. “The beneficiaries of these long-term investments will be the American traveling public in their communities.”

President Biden signed the IIJA into law on November15, 2021. Nearly 90% of IIJA’s highway funds are dispersed by existing formula to states, with the remainder distributed through discretionary grant awards and other allocated programs.

Projects On The Docket

ARTBA has created a digital tool, artbahighwaydashboard.org, to provide national and state-by-state information on the projects and more specifics on how IIJA funds are being invested. Visit the site to see where projects are in progress or in planning. To date, the 20 largest IIJA projects supported by formula funds to date are:

  • Texas—Expanding Loop 1604 on I-10 in San Antonio—$291 million
  • Texas—635 East Project in Dallas—$225 million
  • New York—Van Wyck Expressway Capacity & Access Improvements to and from JFK International Airport—$211 million
  • Arizona—Roadway Widening on I-17 Split—$200 million
  • Texas— I-35 Widening in Travis County—$192 million
  • South Carolina—Phase 1 Carolina Crossroads I-20/26/126 Corridor Improvement Project—$145 million
  • Ohio— I-70/71 Downtown Ramp Up Project in Columbus—$123 million
  • California—Rehabilitation of Pomona Freeway between the Long Beach and San Gabriel River Freeways—$121 million
  • California—Route 46 Corridor Improvement Project in San Luis Obispo—$119 million
  • Illinois—Interchange Reconstruction and Bridge Replacement on I-57 at I-74 Interchange in Urbana-Champaign—$107 million
  • Georgia—State Road 2/State Road 515 Roadway Reconstruction Project in Northern Georgia – $104 million
  • California—State Route 55 Improvements Project in Orange County – $101 million
  • California—Rehabilitation of Route 10 Near Coachella – $100 million
  • Tennessee—Interchange Modification on I-55 at Crump Boulevard in Memphis—$99.6 million
  • Texas—Widen Loop 375 in El Paso – $95 million

Case Study: Kilgore, TX

As states, regions, counties, communities, and site owners/developers assess the infrastructure in and around their locations, the value to industry and the workforce is top of mind. Essential infrastructure incorporates major highways to back roads, from traditional utilities to digital must-haves, from employees’ wants to employers’ needs.

In Kilgore, TX, the economic development team keeps a close eye on the myriad elements, working with local and state stakeholders, public and private, to ensure the hub will be a destination for growing businesses. There’s no X-factor in the city’s progress—it builds on a cohesive blend of the elements.

For Kilgore Economic Development Corporation Executive Director, Lisa Denton, the sum paints an attractive picture for companies looking to expand into a thriving area. “It has enabled us to continue to be competitive on projects, to diversify and locate industry in Kilgore,” she explains.

Transportation tops the list for many prospects. On the near horizon, TxDOT has committed more than $150 million toward improving Kilgore’s interchange at Interstate 20 and State Hwy. 31.

“That is going to be a major improvement to our primary business route for I-20,” Denton said. “The access to and from market is going to be a huge asset to companies, such as Orgill, who operate in distribution and logistics.”

Essential infrastructure incorporates major highways to back roads, from traditional utilities to digital must-haves, from employees’ wants to employers’ needs.

Road conditions add to a locale’s general appeal, an essential bridge between the practical needs of prospective business and the quality of life cornerstones of employees.

“Having a visually appealing community, when workforce or companies are first entering your city, plays a large part in their overall first impression and opinion of your location. Having good streets and the right infrastructure in place is paramount to attracting talent and business,” says Denton

Since 2015, the City of Kilgore has completed $22.3 million in enhancements to utilities, roads, and facilities with $12 million more allocated. Work on quality of life elements like parks and cemeteries has been completed to the tune of $3.6 million with a $27.6 million investment in sight for the Roy H. Laird Regional Science Center. The local government’s grand investment of $65.7 million is part of a long-term, evolving master plan.

Likewise, private investment includes CenterPoint Energy’s update to its natural gas transmission infrastructure alongside a multimillion investment by AEP/SWEPCO in reliability upgrades for Synergy Park customers as well as options for dual feed.

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Four carriers are building or enhancing their infrastructure to further provide hi-speed, reliable broadband in the community. That connectivity offers much-needed redundancy for companies like high-performance auto parts manufacturer Wagner Tuning, which cut the ribbon on its Synergy Park operation in May 2022 and enjoys a dependable digital pipeline to its German headquarters.

“It certainly makes us more attractive to companies that have a heavier presence in the technology side of things,” Denton noted, “whether it be engineering, research and development, or FDI connectivity. It puts us in a better spot to attract those businesses and talent when we have that kind of infrastructure in place.”

Check out all the latest economic development, corporate relocation, corporate expansion and site selection news related to transportation and infrastructure.

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