CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in North Carolina for the first time since her inauguration but was in a familiar campaign mode pushing the Biden administration's domestic agenda.
This is a day that we are celebrating, as we will continue to do, the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act." Harris said after touring a hybrid bus depot in Charlotte. "America is moving again because ultimately that's what infrastructure is all about - getting people moving."
Nearly $1T will be moving too, as the law which passed with bipartisan support will pour cash into repairing roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, highways, sewer lines, rail tracks, runways and everything in between.
"People rely on public transportation for all kinds of reasons: to get groceries, get to school on time, get to work on time, and get to church on time," the vice president added. "For millions of Americans, public transportation is part of their day, every day."
According to The White House, North Carolina is set to receive billions of dollars for local and statewide projects as part of the spending plan; a fact sheet provided by the administration reports there are 1,460 bridges and over 3,116 miles of highway in poor condition. Since 2011, commute times have increased by 10.7% in North Carolina, and on average, each driver pays $500 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair.
Harris was joined by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Rep. Alma Adams, D-NC, assuring state residents that the new infrastructure package will speed up long-neglected public works projects and create good-paying union jobs in the state.
She also toured the public transit facility at the Charlotte Area Transit System's Bus Garage and met with transit workers. There, she saw how Charlotte has emphasized making public transit more accessible for people who use wheelchairs, and how the city has used CARES act funds to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in public transportation.
"The Build Back Better Act will continue our work in Charlotte," said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles.
Rep. Alma Adams, a Democrat, stressed how the law will allow not just for physical mobility, but also social and economic mobility as well.
"The funding in this law will keep Charlotte and Mecklenburg moving," Adams said.
Based on formula funding alone, North Carolina would expect to receive $7.2 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs and $457 million for bridge replacement and repairs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act over five years. North Carolina can also compete for the $12.5 billion Bridge Investment Program for economically significant bridges and nearly $16 billion of national funding in the bill dedicated for major projects that will deliver substantial economic benefits to communities.
"We haven't seen this kind of investment since the highway system," Rep. Deborah Ross, the Democratic congresswoman from Wake County, told ABC11. "This is going to improve so many things but it will also bring us a lot of jobs. A lot of good-paying jobs. Jobs that can't be outsourced overseas."
The congresswoman added that North Carolina, and especially the Triangle, will be able to attain funds to replace aging pipes in Raleigh while also expanding service to growing communities in places like Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina.
"They've attracted all these businesses that need more water and sewer to do manufacturing. Johnston County needs this too," Ross said.
Gov. Roy Cooper also joined the Vice President in Charlotte and echoed the enthusiasm for the new law, especially when it comes to the big investment in expanding access to broadband internet.
"The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will bolster North Carolina's already strong work expanding access to high-speed broadband by providing as much as $1 billion to connect remote and rural areas of the state and prioritizing unserved areas, underserved areas and community anchor institutions like schools, libraries and medical and health care providers," a spokesman for the governor told ABC11. "The state will be able to utilize these funds quickly thanks to the Governor's existing digital equity plan designed to bring all North Carolinians up to speed with the digital society so they can live more equitable, prosperous, educated and healthier lives."
Republicans panned the vice president's visit, saying that despite her "obvious failures at the border," with the withdrawal from Afghanistan and inflation, Harris is using taxpayer dollars to go on a PR tour to get a political win.
"Gaslighting North Carolinians and squandering their hard-earned tax dollars through the Build Back Broke lie that will worsen inflation, raise taxes and add hundreds of billions to our national debt is disrespectful and unproductive for the American people," said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Alex Nolley. "Instead of trying to score political points on a taxpayer-funded PR tour, Kamala Harris should get back to Washington and work on solving the multiple crises facing our country."