By Abby Hoover
President Joe Biden will visit Kansas City on Wednesday to promote his new infrastructure bill, the White House announced December 4.
It is Biden’s first visit to the Kansas City area as president. He was last in Kansas City in March 2020 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Nov. 15. It contains money for roads, bridges, broadband, water systems and a shift to electrical vehicles.
Though locals were hopeful, funding for Cliff Drive Scenic Byway was not included in the recently passed bill.
Earlier this year, U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) announced that the INVEST in America Act would include more than $22.6 million for infrastructure projects throughout the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri.
However, according to his office, the Cliff Drive earmark, along with other Transportation and Infrastructure earmarks, were all stripped from the bipartisan infrastructure bill during negotiations by the Senate.
“However, there is $6.5 billion going to Missouri for roads, plus everything else that will be going to the state from the [Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill],” said Haydin Brady, Cleaver’s District Communications Coordinator. “Additionally, there are hundreds of billions of dollars in competitive grant funding that we are going to work hard to get for projects in the Fifth District, including the Cliff Drive project. So we will be working with the state to get funding to projects like Cliff Drive as well as applying for the grant funding that’s out there.”
The congressman’s original plan included money for zero-fare electric buses, pedestrian plazas and other improvements. The Cliff Drive Scenic Byway was initially included in the act to undergo $2.16 million worth of adjustments.
“I’ve been a long-time proponent of community funding requests making a comeback in Congress because no one understands the needs of these communities better than those who represent them,” Cleaver said when the proposal was announced. “From Lawson to Odessa to 18th & Vine in Kansas City, these projects are desperately needed to rebuild aging infrastructure, generate economic activity, and help communities across the district build back better from the pandemic.”
Cleaver requested funding for six transportation and infrastructure projects in April, and five of them were included in the T&I Committee’s package released June 7. The INVEST in America Act package was passed by the Senate on August 10, passed by Congress on November 15, then signed into law by President Biden on November 15.
On Friday, Cleaver announced Missouri will receive more than $147 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2022 to improve water infrastructure across the state. The funding will be provided through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) State Revolving Fund (SRF) and will go toward removing lead pipes, upgrading aging drinking water and wastewater systems, and funding local water projects throughout Missouri.
“I’m ecstatic to announce this historic $147 million in funding to improve water infrastructure in the Fifth Congressional District and across the state of Missouri,” Cleaver said. “Not only will this funding help to ensure our children, grandchildren, and communities as a whole have safe, clean drinking water, but it’s going to create a lot of good-paying jobs while doing it. I’m proud to have helped provide this long overdue investment to remove lead pipes and modernize our state’s drinking water systems, and as we begin to receive the funding, I look forward to working with the state to ensure the needs of the Fifth Congressional District are met.”
According to the National Resources Defense Council, Missouri has the sixth-most lead service lines in the nation and the fourth-most lead service lines per 100,000 people. The $147,152,000 in funding is Missouri’s first-year allocation of the EPA’s five year investment of $44 billion in State SRF funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and will help to remove lead service lines from schools, households, and public buildings throughout the state.
In a letter from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan to state governors yesterday, the EPA encouraged states to maximize the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address disproportionate environmental burdens in historically underserved communities across the country. The Biden administration encouraged states to use the funding with a focus on targeting resources to disadvantaged communities, making rapid progress on lead-free water for all, and tackling forever chemicals and emerging contaminants.
“No child should be faced with brain damage due to lead contamination and no family should be worried about getting cancer from PFAS-contaminated water in the United States in 2021,” Cleaver said. “Sadly, that is still a reality. This funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide communities across the state of Missouri with the comfort of knowing they are drinking safe, clean, and uncontaminated water.”
The bill can be found at congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3684/.