The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is moving rapidly into implementation. Not surprisingly at this early stage, states, municipalities and cities are working hard to present their infrastructure funding priorities. Federal agencies are rapidly devising systems to determine how to allocate funds, where to direct them, how to access them and which projects to pursue.
In other words, infrastructure “czar” Mitch Landrieu has his work cut out for him. He is certainly eminently qualified — his experience as mayor of New Orleans during the recovery from Hurricane Katrina (and as Louisiana’s lieutenant governor during Katrina itself) was effectively a graduate course in the essentials of resilient infrastructure, the challenges of modernization and the consequences of infrastructure failure. And he does not lack support. He leads an oversight committee that includes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, whose departments are responsible for a large proportion of the funding. A presidential advisory board will likely also help.
But the scale of the funding available through the infrastructure bill and the rapid pace of deployment present challenges. My conversations with mayors, governors and state and local agencies suggest that few of them have a full grasp on where to request funds or the processes and procedures for assigning funds to projects.