This past weekend the commercial real estate industry welcomed the passing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is providing $1.5 trillion for climate change protections, roads and bridges, electric grid updates, broadband and more. With the vast number of upgrades that will soon be taking place, what does this mean for individual metro performance?
Here are the top four ways Phoenix benefits from this new bill and what plans are sure to follow.
Phoenix has been leading the way for major cities devoted to climate change initiatives. The city has devoted $2.8 million in funding for environment-related issues and has adopted several new resources across the metro. Mayor Kate Gallego recently attended the Conference of Parties (COP) United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where she noted meeting with several European companies interested in sustainability and finding a home for their business in Phoenix.
“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will accelerate Phoenix’s efforts to complete transportation projects, along with many more of the city’s infrastructure priorities. These projects will empower us to create high-paying jobs and connect more families to economic opportunities across our city,” said Gallego in a tweet posted on Nov. 10.
While the goal for committing to net-zero is 2050 for most of the U.S., Gallego has an interim goal of reaching that by 2030. She is the new Public Sector Co-Chair of 50L Home Coalition, a multi-stakeholder action platform for water and climate efficiency, as well as part of a group called C40 Cities, which aims to make major investments in energy efficiency, retrofitting of existing buildings and improving transportation systems.
The South Central Extension/Downtown Hub will connect the current light rail system in downtown Phoenix and operate south. The project includes a hub in downtown, as well as new stations and public art across the eight stations. The project begins at McKinley Street between First and Central Avenues creating a loop to the existing Valley Metro Rail. In addition, the extension will add a hub between Washington and Jefferson Streets and the Third Avenue loop will connect to the future Capital Extension project. The advancement is funded through Transportation 2050, a 35-year, multi-modal plan approved by Phoenix voters and is scheduled for completion in 2024.
The state is also working on the 8.3-mile I-10 West Extension that will connect with the existing Valley Metro Rail system to west Phoenix. This marks Maricopa County’s first major urban freeway reconstruction project, running 11 miles between Loop 202 and I-17. In 2016, the Phoenix City Council and Valley Metro Rail Board of Directors approved a phased approach to the program. Now going into Phase II, this will extend the rail along I-10 to the 79th Avenue and I-10 Park and Ride.
In 2020, Phoenix adopted the cool pavements system, which applies reflective coating to neighborhood streets to lower the extreme surface temperatures around the city. The pilot project findings revealed an average surface temperature of 10.5 to 12 degrees lower than traditional asphalt. Last month, Gallego named David Hondula, a longtime environmental scientist and heat researcher at Arizona State University, as director of the nation’s first publicly funded office of heat response and mitigation. In addition to the cool pavements program, other initiatives include “Cool Corridors” to plant more shade trees into neighborhoods and along city streets, as well as planting more trees within the city and installing shade structures to decrease the heat.
According to a report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, Phoenix is on track to add 550,000 jobs between 2019 and 2029, putting the state on track to lead the nation as a destination for employment and advanced industries such as industrial. Annually, the nation’s growth is set to increase 0.4 percent, compared to Arizona, which is showcasing an annualized growth of 1.6 percent.
Companies are flocking to Arizona cities, beginning construction on major projects that will bring in thousands of jobs for residents. Among those include Howard Hughes Corp.’s $600 million master-planned community in Buckeye, Intel’s $20 billion factories at its Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Facebook’s $800 million Mesa Data Center, the Paradise Valley Mall redevelopment in Phoenix and the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s plant.
With a growing labor force needed, the state is creating more opportunities for people to learn the skills for these new jobs. In March, the state launched a new training facility called Drive48 in Casa Grande, in which more than 100 people at a time can be trained for careers in automotive manufacturing. Two other Arizona groups received $12 million in grants for the U.S. Department of Labor to grow talent in IT and cybersecurity, as well as the Arizona Board of Regents receiving a grant worth more than $8 million to be deployed for a program under the county’s Workforce Investment Board.
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