GSA Announces Land Port Infrastructure Projects
The U.S. General Services Administration has recently announced major land port modernization and construction projects funded by the Biden Administration’s bipartisan infrastructure law. The $3.4 billion in funding will help modernize 26 land ports of entry along the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico.
“America’s land ports are vital to our economy and our security, with billions of dollars in goods and services crossing our borders each and every day,” said GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan. “These bipartisan investments are a historic opportunity to modernize our land ports in ways that will create good-paying jobs and strengthen supply chains, while enhancing safety and security.”
“Our underfunded and outdated infrastructure has real costs to families, our economy, and our global competitiveness,” said Senior Advisor & White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu. “President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is investing in strengthening our supply chains, including our land ports which are vital for moving goods across our borders.”
Carnahan noted that on average, land ports are 40 years old and have not been able to keep up with increased trade in recent years. These new projects are reportedly expected to expand supply chain capacity, introduce new technology to process traffic and increase energy efficiency.
Additionally, modernization and construction of these ports is anticipated to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection by allowing them to more effectively deploy the latest technology to identify high risk activity and shipments, combat drug trafficking and increase operational security.
The Bridge of the Americas Land Port of Entry is the busiest in the city of El Paso. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will modernize the LPOE, improving traffic flow and facilitating trade.— GSA (@USGSA) March 1, 2022
?? Learn more: https://t.co/TwHZwsgUoH pic.twitter.com/LcBUjy1Ozv
“This is a once-in-a-generation investment that will enhance CBP’s mission to facilitate lawful trade and travel while protecting the American people and strengthen our borders,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus. “CBP’s ability to identify, screen, and inspect high-risk persons or cargo depends greatly on the operational utility of its land port of entry inspection facilities.
“This investment will improve our operational capabilities and facility infrastructure, as well as help mitigate the negative economic impact of border wait times, facilitate the economic development and growth in the border communities, and benefit the American economy on the border and beyond.”
According to the release, projects that are currently expected to move forward under the plan include:
The GSA notes that these estimated project costs are subject to change due to time and market conditions. The administration also expects to award some contracts prior to the end of the year, including for Calexico West, California, and San Luis, Arizona.
“They’re all kind of at different phases and different levels of complexity. These are long-term investments, and so each is going to be dealt with a bit differently,” Carnahan said. “Some are going to take more communicating with neighborhoods and communities than others.”
The funding is estimated to support nearly 6,000 jobs annually over the next eight years and add $3.23 billion in total labor income across the country. It will also reported contribute an additional $4.5 billion to the National Gross Domestic Product and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue for state, local and federal governments.
In total, the GSA owns and operates 102 land ports of entry along the northern and southern U.S. borders. In recent years, it has added eight lanes to the San Ysidro, California, port of entry and completed upgrades at the Nogales-Mariposa, Arizona, port, which reportedly reduced commercial wait times by 25%.
For the upcoming projects, Landrieu told reporters that the port upgrades will take cybersecurity and environmental sustainability into consideration.
“All of this building will be informed by resilience and climate, and making sure that we use materials that are sustainable, but also make sure that we build these things to withstand whatever climate challenges we have coming our way, whether we’re in the north or the south,” Landrieu said.
The White House recently announced that the land port of entry projects will use best practices for reducing embodied emission of buildings and materials from the new Buy Clean Task Force. The GSA has issued Requests for Information focused on concrete and asphalt, and plans to use the responses to shape the construction projects.
“GSA is committed to leveraging its purchasing power to support American workers and to promote cleaner U.S. industries that can produce the next generation of sustainable products and materials for a healthier, more prosperous economy,” Carnahan said. “As we make historic investments in America’s critical infrastructure, we look forward to partnering with industry to reduce harmful emissions, create clean energy jobs, and seize this opportunity to build a better future for everyone.”
According to the White House’s Fact Sheet, this effort may include requiring Environmental Product Declarations (disclosing lifecycle impacts) and the use of concrete with at least 20% lower global warming potential, whenever available.
Infrastructure Bill Details
With the goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as funding new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reportedly serves to deliver a key component in President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The White House also reports that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, alongside the Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
“Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation,” President Biden said in a statement following the 228-206 vote. “The United States House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century.
“I’m also proud that a rule was voted on that will allow for passage of my Build Back Better Act in the House of Representatives the week of Nov. 15. The Build Back Better Act will be a once-in-a-generation investment in our people.”
As potential effects of climate change woe the world, the legislation has recognized that nearly 75% of the nation’s electricity can be accounted for in both its residential and commercial structures, such as housing, stores and offices.
To mitigate the high usage, the Build Better Plan has dedicated roughly $5 billion to various programs aimed at reducing electricity use in buildings, improving building materials and training on design, construction and maintenance for energy-efficient structures.
The bill will also fund a series of problem-solving programs, for issues varying from drafty windows in affordable housing complexes to aged air ducts and outdated building codes.
According to reports, the largest chunk of the $5 billion will be utilized for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, which aids structures owned or occupied by people with low incomes. The legislation is expected to provide a $3.5 billion infusion for the program, which will be used to fund upgrades such as insulation, windows, roofing, and heating and cooling devices.
Though seemingly minor, the upgrades are expected to result in sizable energy savings.
Later in November, the White House announced that President Joe Biden named former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010-2018, during Hurricane Katrina recovery and the BP Oil Spill. According to the White House statement, in that time he fast-tracked over 100 projects and secured billions in federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, parks and critical infrastructure.
“He also knows what it’s like to lead at the state level and will be able to work with and relate to governors and other state officials,” stated the White House press release. “And he has strong relationships in the business and labor communities, which will be essential in carrying out this job.”
At the beginning of the year, Landrieu reached out to state leaders at the beginning of the month encouraging them to appoint their own infrastructure coordinators to implement the $1.2 trillion law.
The three-page letter, sent to all the nation’s governors on Jan. 4, requested that they appoint a “high-level” representative to serve as the state’s own Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. Landrieu also reportedly suggested that governors create task forces modeled after the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force created by President Joe Biden in November.
The role of these positions will help integrate aspects of the bill, including funding, alongside departments responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments for projects.
“We know that needs, capacity, and challenges can vary widely by locality,” the letter from Landrieu, which was shared with CNN, reads. “We need to make sure our programs reflect these realities across your state and our country, and having a senior, single point of contact in your office will help ensure that issues get elevated appropriately and rapidly.”
In his letter, Landrieu also announced that his team, with the Office of Management and Budget, plan to release formal guidance to agencies to “help set the policy parameters for much of the discretionary and remaining formula funding in 2022 and beyond.”
In February, the White House released the first edition of its Bipartisan Infrastructure Law guidebook that contains a comprehensive list of the more than 375 programs and available funding included in the law.
Acting as a “roadmap” for the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows direct federal spending at the program level, the 465-page guidebook outlines 12 chapters grouping the programs by area
Of the 375 programs, 125 are new, with 60% of the funds are available through formula and 40% are through competitive applications. Future phases of the guidebook are expected to update dates and timelines for program implementation, best practices, case studies and links to key resources.