How the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will impact the Northern Mariana Islands
For decades, the Northern Mariana Islands have felt the sting of poor infrastructure, as a result of a lack of investment. However, according to the White House, President Joe Biden’s (D) Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has the potential to greatly improve the physical infrastructure on the islands, while also making “life better for thousands of residents,” through the creation of astounding economic growth. Biden’s plan aims to financially support the islands in projects that will upgrade the general infrastructure to create a more seamless system of transportation.
The bill promises $24 million over five years to the Northern Mariana Islands roads and bridges, as part of the Territorial Highway Program. This would impact the rate of transportation of people and necessary goods on the islands. This aspect of the bill focuses heavily on “climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety,” signaling that the administration takes climate change and its effects seriously across the country and its territories. In addition, the act would allocate $7 million over five years to improve the public transit systems on the islands, with the goal of providing simple ways for residents to access their important needs. This point has been brought up by Governor Ralph DLG. Torres (R) in the past, who has spoken about creating a public transit system that “is comprehensive and reaches the most underserved and vulnerable areas in our community, so it is easier for folks to find a job, go to their medical appointments, or attend classes at the Northern Marianas College.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would also provide the Northern Mariana Islands with a minimum of $25 million to upgrade the broadband internet service. This is a notably crucial investment, as the FCC has found the Northern Mariana Islands median internet speeds to be unacceptably low. The islands, which are especially vulnerable to climate change, could expect additional funding to up their resilience to the adverse effects, thus promoting the safety of residents. The bill would also allocate more than $24 million over five years to ensure that clean and safe drinking water is a guaranteed right for all residents. Finally, under the new act, the Northern Mariana Islands would receive $30 million to improve airports, as part of Biden’s plan to catch up to our competitors in airport development.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could have a potent impact on the future of the Northern Mariana Islands by investing heavily in improved infrastructure. This in turn will provide more opportunities for employment and spark a robust local economy.