Rep. Mike Thompson cheers passage of infrastructure bill during stop in Santa Rosa

Rep. Mike Thompson, who has been touring his district to tout passage of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, touted bridge repairs and a $100 million investment in California’s broadband internet connectivity as highlights of the spending package.|

Rep. Mike Thompson, who has been touring his district to tout passage of President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, said bridge repairs and a $100 million investment in California’s broadband internet connectivity were crucial components of the spending package.

“The broadband investment, I can’t tell you how important that is,” he told The Press Democrat Tuesday following a round of speeches by local government representatives at Santa Rosa's Prince Memorial Greenway’s Gateway Park alongside Santa Rosa Creek. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of a good internet connection for everything from health care to education, he said.

During previous stops in Napa and Lake counties, Thompson, D-Napa, saw bridges in dire need of repair that he hoped could be fixed through the money in the historic infrastructure investment, he said.

“There’s not a person in Sonoma County that doesn’t know we need to invest in road infrastructure,” he said.

Officials representing four Sonoma County cities and county government, a union representative and local construction operator joined Thompson in Santa Rosa.

While they offered high praise for the bipartisan Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act and expounded on a wide range of infrastructure needs in Sonoma County and the North Bay, it’s still uncertain when and in what amounts federal funds will hit local government coffers.

California is in line for a significant sum of federal tax dollars. The state will receive more than $25 billion for highways, $4.2 billion for bridges and $9.4 billion for public transportation, according to a White House analysis. Those are just increases to baseline federal funding streams, and billions more dollars will be available in different grant funding programs.

The state can also expect $384 million for expanding electric vehicle charging stations, $100 million for broadband coverage, $40 million for cybersecurity and $1.5 billion for airport infrastructure. There is also $84 million for wildfire resilience and $3.5 billion for clean water projects headed the state’s way.

Santa Rosa Vice Mayor Natalie Rogers said such funds can’t reach her city fast enough. “Local communities are struggling to keep up with the growth in demands and maintaining our basic services and roads,” she said.

While still flush with unspent federal stimulus funds, Santa Rosa is operating at a $11 million deficit for its current budget year. The city recently offered 8% increases to city employees to help them keep up with rising housing costs. Sales tax income for Santa Rosa and other cities hit the skids early in the pandemic and some local government income streams, including regional transit ridership, remain low.

City transit officials have said they hope the infrastructure bill will allow them to complete a switch to an all-electric bus fleet in Santa Rosa.

Rogers was joined by Rohnert Park Mayor Gerard Giudice, Sonoma Mayor Madolyn Agrimonti and Cotati Mayor John Moore and Santa Rosa Metro Chamber CEO Peter Rumble. Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, who is board chairman for the SMART passenger rail line, among other transportation roles, also spoke.

The infrastructure bill could allow SMART to “complete the system as envisioned by the voters of Marin and Sonoma counties,” said Rabbitt. “It may even allow SMART to take the next step in connecting to the Capitol Corridor and points points east.”

SMART’s buildout toward Windsor has been stalled now for nine months as a result of a legal challenge that has tied up revenue from a hike on Bay Area bridge tolls. That case now rests with the California Supreme Court.

SMART and other Bay Area transit agencies also are waiting for a resolution of a pension benefits dispute with the U.S. Labor Department that has blocked as much as $12 billion in federal funds, including $9.5 billion from the infrastructure bill.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

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