KPAX: Tester says small communities should "reach out" and start planning infrastructure projects

by Dennis Bragg

Senator Jon Tester says now that the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill is all final, it will take some time for the specific funding details to be ironed out.

But he advises Montana leaders, including those in smaller communities, to begin developing their ideas, and reaching out to the appropriate funding agencies.

With President Biden signing the infrastructure package last week, attention is quickly turning to how the billions of dollars will be spent on everything from bridges to broadband.

But unlike 10-years ago, when the federal government injected big dollars to build infrastructure for economic recovery after the Great Recession, this approach is more traditional. Projects don’t have to be “shovel ready” about to start construction.

Instead, Tester said the funding will follow more traditional paths.

“This money is going to flow through traditional mechanisms they’ve been using forever. So, I would get in contact with the folks with the Revolving Water Fund if you’ve got sewer and water needs. I’d get in contact with the Montana Department of Transportation if you’ve got highway and bridge needs. And just go down the list. And the end results going to be pretty good projects. And the reason is because this bill’s going to be over five years.” – Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)

However, Tester cautions there will be plenty of federal oversight to make sure the projects that are funded have the biggest improvement and impact.