Transportation leaders aim to boost equity in federal infrastructure efforts

Six state DOT heads signed a pledge last week to leverage funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to reduce the racial wealth gap. California, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana and Michigan, plus Washington, D.C., aim to do so by creating more opportunities for historically disadvantaged construction businesses — with an emphasis on prime contracting roles. The IIJA stipulates that at least 10% of federal transportation and transit project funds go to DBE enterprises, and it also places an emphasis on prompt payment to DBE subcontractors in order to remedy ongoing effects of past discrimination against small firms owned and controlled by disadvantaged individuals. One of the challenges that small and disadvantaged businesses face is getting access to insurance needed for such federal work. The criteria for better rates favors established builders, and makes it difficult for newer ones to compete.

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