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Bipartisan Deal Would Only Meet Some of Nation’s Infrastructure Needs



Lawmakers have announced broad spending categories for the new funds. That includes $110 billion for roads and bridges; $66 billion for passenger and freight rail and $65 billion for broadband internet, though that includes some money already allocated in the stimulus package Democrats approved in March. The deal also includes $55 billion for water infrastructure; $49 billion for public transit and a combined $15 billion for electric vehicles, including charging stations and buses.

Paul P. Skoutelas, the president of the American Public Transportation Association, a lobbying group, said the infrastructure deal was a step in the right direction and that the “first look at the funding levels appears significant.”

But he added that the country’s public transit systems would still not be fully modernized through the deal. There is a $176 billion backlog for transit investments, a deficit that is expected to grow to more than $250 billion through 2029, according to a report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Beth Osborne, the director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group, said the infrastructure deal appeared significant but that the lack of details made it difficult to understand how, exactly, the funds would be used.

“You can spend a trillion dollars in highways and not spend a dime on repair. So seeing something titled ‘Highways’ with a number by it doesn’t tell me what will be repaired so I can’t answer whether this is enough,” Ms. Osborne said.

She added that she was disappointed to see some initiatives in Mr. Biden’s original infrastructure proposal scaled back, such as the amount of funds dedicated to “reconnecting communities” by removing freeways or other past infrastructure projects that ran through Black neighborhoods and other communities of color. While Mr. Biden’s jobs plan proposed investing $20 billion for a new program that would “reconnect” communities of color to economic opportunity, the bipartisan deal proposes $1 billion in new spending.

On Friday, White House officials said they were pleased with how the surface transportation funding in the deal was divided, with about half of the money supporting vehicular travel and the rest going to transit and rail. That is a departure from the traditional Washington practice of more heavily funding highways. They noted that negotiators were still hashing out details on the amount of money that would be devoted to repairing roads, as opposed to building new ones, and said repairs continued to be Mr. Biden’s top priority for that spending.

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