Over the weekend Congress passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA). The compromise bill provides needed funding for critical county infrastructure, including funding the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for an additional three years. Not only will SRS be funded for three more years but funding will be increased. Counties eligible for SRS will see payments increased to 2017 levels. Payments will remain at 2017 levels for the full three years marking the first time Congress has authorized SRS without an annual five to 10 percent reduction in payments. SRS funds county road and bridge maintenance projects, rural schools and county search and rescue programs.
In addition to funding SRS, IIJA also increases federal aid for transportation projects administered through the Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LHTAC), including safety projects, surface transportation projects, freight projects, rail crossing projects and bridge projects. Most importantly, IIJA includes significant funding for off system bridge improvements, with priority given to bridges in poor condition or bridges that will fall into poor condition within the next three years. In Idaho, most off system bridges are on the county highway system, meaning much of the bridge money in Idaho will be to counties and highway districts.
IAC will be working with the National Associations of Counties (NACo), LHTAC and the Governor’s Office in analyzing IIJA and its impact on Idaho’s counties. IAC will share more detailed information as it becomes available. For more information about IIJA, please visit NACo’s analysis by clicking here.