'Decades overdue.' Transportation industry cheers Biden's infrastructure plan

April 1, 2021 - President Biden's massive infrastructure proposal has excited transportation executives who say it is unprecedented and will have a broad, lasting impact on the country.

The outline calls for $621 billion to upgrade and modernize everything from roads to bridges, railways, buses, trains and airports. Electric vehicles are a major part of the proposal, with investments in charging infrastructure, the battery supply chain, manufacturing, tax incentives and job creation. An all-encompassing infrastructure push is a rarity, according to transportation experts.

Biden's plan will need to receive congressional approval, so details are likely to change. But transportation leaders called the proposal a bold, necessary step to upgrade US transportation.

"President Biden's plan is the most visionary proposal for the nation's transportation network since the dawn of the Interstate Highway System," Janette Sadik-Khan, chair of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, said in a statement.

The American Society of Civil Engineers has done report cards on US infrastructure since 1998, and the country has never received better than a C-, according to its chair emeritus Greg DiLoreto. He said Biden's proposal will avert negative economic consequences from a failing infrastructure.

"We have a proposal, finally, that may cut into the infrastructure shortfall," DiLoreto told CNN Business.

Paul P. Skoutelas, CEO of the American Public Transportation Association, said that in 40 years in the field, he's never heard a president talk more directly and forcefully on the importance of transportation investments.

"This is transformational for mobility," Skoutelas said. "It's years, if not decades overdue."

Biden's plan was especially cheered by companies pushing to electrify the US transportation fleet. Many described as the federal government's biggest push yet for electric vehicles. There are currently 41,155 electric vehicle charging stations in the United States, according to the US Department of Energy. Biden calls for investing $174 billion in electric vehicles, including a national network of 500,000 chargers.

He also called for replacing 50,000 diesel transit buses and at least 20% of school buses with electric vehicles.

Scott Mercer, founder of Volta Charging, which operates 1,700 charging stations, says that the federal government will need to be careful to focus not just on the quantity of electric vehicle charging stations, but the quality too.

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