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El Paso Times: Veronica Escobar and other local El Paso leaders discuss benefits of infrastructure bill

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar and other El Paso elected officials shared details about how federal funding can help improve local infrastructure Tuesday.
By Anthony Jackson

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar and other El Paso elected officials shared details about how federal funding can help improve local infrastructure Tuesday.

State Rep. Lina Ortega, state Sen. C├ęsar Blanco, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser joined Escobar to share their funding priorities after meeting with White House Senior Adviser and Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu.

Escobar, a Democrat, said the state of Texas will be receiving $35 billion in infrastructure spending over the course of five years. The Infrastructure and Investment JOBS Act was signed by President Joe Biden Nov. 15, 2021, and is a $1.2 trillion spending bill; $550 billion of new spending will be on hard infrastructure like roads, bridges and ports, among others.

Escobar said communities will also be able to access the funding through grant applications. 

"It includes investments in Colonias, which has long been a priority for me dating back to my time in county government, making sure that our local government has access to funding for water and wastewater, to help bring people into a life of dignity who live in the outskirts of the area," Escobar said, adding that it also includes funding for broadband internet to underserved regions, more money for transit, quality of life and bringing more equity to communities.

"We've got the legislation passed, the next step is going to be making sure that El Paso gets to the front of that line to pull down as much of that funding," Escobar said.

Leeser said as long as projects aren't fully funded, then they won't meet their intended purpose of uniting the community. 

"We want those projects to be a quality of life improvement in our community," Leeser said.

Blanco echoed much of the same sentiment and called for a "21st century infrastructure to support the largest bilingual workforce in the western hemisphere."

Escobar said local leaders will be focusing on four areas to fund in El Paso: transportation, water and wastewater, transportation equity and bridges.

"We also talked about the (Interstate 10) Deck Park as an example," Escobar said recalling the meeting with Landrieu.

Escobar said changes to El Paso's international bridges will include upgrading technology at the ports of entry. Escobar said resolving staffing issues at the bridges is a "request separate from the infrastructure package."

LINK: https://www.elpasotimes.com/story/news/2022/01/11/infrastructure-bill-el-paso-veronica-escobar-leaders-discuss/9175247002/

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