Local leaders eye potential impacts of infrastructure bill

Posted at 2:47 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 17:04:24-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Although the infrastructure bill has run into some roadblocks in Congress, leaders in Hampton Roads believe it could have a big impact.

"We're anxious to see whatever comes out of the infrastructure bill for sure," said L.J. Hasnen, the Public Works director for the City of Virginia Beach.

Hansen and other local officials showed Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) around three infrastructure-related projects in the city on Tuesday, including the Laskin Road widening project.

The project is making upgrades to the roadway, including removing the feeder lanes. Current phases of the project are being paid for through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation, but future phases still need funding.

"The infrastructure bill could absolutely help on projects like that, and we're looking at the infrastructure bill to wherever we could make gains," said Hansen.

Luria supports passing the infrastructure bill and believes it could have a big impact on Hampton Roads.

"I think it can be enormous," she said.

The U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion deal in August. The Senate's version of the bill includes $7 billion for Virginia highways and $537 million for bridge repair, according to Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

Virginia has more than 500 bridges and 2,000 miles of highway in poor condition. The bill also includes funding to boost air and rail service.

It could also help to fight the impacts of sea level rise. Hampton Roads is very vulnerable to its impacts.

"Any resources that we're able to bring from federal, state, local levels - everyone working together to try address the issues related to sea level rise and recurrent flooding, I think is a win for our community," said Luria.

The bill has hit the brakes in the U.S. House, where more progressive members of Congress want it tied to a large spending bill.

Luria supports passing infrastructure on its own.

"I would like to go to D.C. this afternoon and pass it," she said. "I think we could pass it in a bipartisan way in the House."

For now, local leaders are waiting to see what, if anything, will pass.

"It could be huge. It is something as American communities we really need to be looking at our infrastructure," said Hansen.