Funding will improve traffic flow, public transit options, and airport maintenance, among other projects
Legislation includes Klobuchar’s bills to cut red tape and streamline the broadband deployment process— like “dig once”— encourage collaboration between large and small carriers to bridge service gaps in rural areas, and boost broadband infrastructure investments
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) announced major federal funding for new infrastructure, including millions dedicated to rural broadband deployment. The legislation signed into law includes Klobuchar’s bills to connect communities across Minnesota and the U.S. with affordable internet access, including provisions based on her Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act and her bill to encourage states to coordinate highway construction projects with broadband providers so that broadband infrastructure can be installed at the same time—known as “dig once.”
“Our 21st century economy demands 21st century infrastructure, and that requires investments in roads, bridges, airports, and rural broadband,” Klobuchar said. “This crucial funding will not only connect communities across our state physically, but also digitally - bringing high speed internet to even more Minnesotans. The inclusion of my legislation to streamline deployment will reduce the costs of building new infrastructure and help expand wireless coverage in our rural areas, a necessity for our families and businesses.”
The bill includes provisions based on Klobuchar’s bills to cut red tape and streamline the broadband deployment process, encourage collaboration between large and small carriers to bridge service gaps in rural areas, and boost broadband infrastructure investments. Her bills will connect communities across Minnesota and the U.S. with affordable internet access by implementing measures that will:
- Cut red tape by encouraging states to coordinate highway construction projects with broadband providers so that broadband infrastructure can be installed at the same time—known as “dig once.”
- Direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a rulemaking on opportunities for large carriers to lease unused spectrum to rural and smaller carriers and encouraging collaboration between companies to bridge service gaps in rural areas, fulfilling the goal of her bipartisan Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act.
- Streamline the broadband deployment process on federal land to boost broadband infrastructure investments in rural communities located near federal land.
The bill also triples funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant Program. These grants support innovative state and local projects that increase the flow of traffic and improve safety. Across Minnesota, TIGER Grants have supported projects in Scott, Kandiyohi and Ramsey Counties.
It also includes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Essential Air Service (EAS) Program, which helps rural communities maintain a minimum level of commercial air service. In Minnesota, flights to and from Bemidji, Brainerd, Chisholm/Hibbing, International Falls, and Thief River Falls are eligible for support through this program. Maintaining regular commercial flights to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) is vital to the economic competitiveness of the regions served by these airports. EAS flights also strengthen MSP as a large hub airport resulting in more choices for passengers departing from the Twin Cities.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Klobuchar has been a leader in pushing to expand and improve communications infrastructure in rural areas. In May, Klobuchar and Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced the bipartisan Rural Wireless Access Act of 2017 to expand broadband deployment using accurate coverage maps. In April, Klobuchar and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) led a bipartisan group of 56 senators in urging the FCC to continue advancing broadband deployment in rural communities. Last year, Klobuchar and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced legislation to measure the economic impact of broadband on the U.S. economy. Klobuchar, Capito, Senators Angus King (I-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and John Boozman (R-AR) also led 48 senators in urging the Administration to include broadband in any infrastructure initiative.