FILE - Downtown Indianapolis

Downtown Indianapolis

(The Center Square) – The Indiana Chamber of Commerce offered support the recent passage of the federal infrastructure bill with Chamber President Kevin Brinegar saying the money coming into the state is badly needed.

“We are pleased the historic infrastructure bill has passed,” Brinegar said in a statement on Saturday, the morning after the bill cleared the House of Representatives, 228-206. “It’s the type of long-term, needed commitment to improve the state and nation’s infrastructure system that we’ve sought for more than a decade.”

All seven Republican members of Congress from Indiana voted no, while the state’s two Democrats votes yes.

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the White House says, includes the largest federal expenditure on public transportation in U.S. history and the largest federal expenditure on passenger rail service since the creation of Amtrak by Congress in 1970.

The total amount to be spent in Indiana is estimated to be $8.8 billion.

On Monday, the Indiana AFL-CIO called the passage of the bill, a “huge win for Hoosier workers” and trumpeted the funds that will be coming to the state. These funds include almost $7 billion for roads, $401 million for bridge replacement and repair, $682 million for public transportation, $751 million for water systems, $100 million for high-speed internet and $100 million to build a network of electric vehicle chargers along Indiana highways to facilitate long-distance travel by electric vehicle.

In a fact sheet released in August, the White House said 217,000 people in Indiana are now without Internet access, and said that with passage of the bill, about 24% of Hoosiers will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which would subsidize internet service for lower-income Americans.

The same fact sheet says airports in Indiana can expect to receive $170 million for infrastructure development, and that the state will get about $20 million to protect it from wildfires and $20 million to protect it from cyberattacks.

Of the $66 billion for passenger rail service, $22 billion is to go to Amtrak in the form of grants to provide train service between cities.

Indianapolis is likely to benefit, and to be better connected by train to other major cities in the Midwest.

In August, while the infrastructure bill was being debated, Amtrak announced plans for new passenger train service from Chicago to Indianapolis and from Indianapolis to both Cincinnati and Louisville, which has not had passenger train service since 2003.

Indianapolis, a metropolitan area with a population of close to 2 million, now only has Amtrak service three times a week.

Amtrak’s proposal would resume daily service from Indianapolis to Chicago, which ceased in 2019.

Notably, the proposed route would include a stop at the Indianapolis International Airport, which does not currently have any train connecting it to downtown Indianapolis.

In the statement released by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Brinegar talked of the need to fix bridges in Indiana, which he said have been “dangerously deteriorating” for years, and said the “positives” in the bill outweighed the association’s concerns about adding to the national debt.

“We simply couldn’t let our infrastructure further deteriorate and burden business and citizens alike,” he said.