After months and months of debate, the House of Representatives on Friday voted to pass an over $1 trillion infrastructure bill to repair the country’s roads and bridges, improve the rail system, and expand clean water access, among other investments.

The vote proved bipartisan, with a number of Republicans voting in favor of the bill. Ultimately, the bill passed the chamber by a vote of 228-206.

infrastructure

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The spending package includes funding for a variety of critical infrastructure, from roads and bridges to broadband and electric grid improvements.

“Generations from now, people will look back and know this is when America won the economic competition for the 21st Century,” President Joe Biden said.

So, what’s in the bill, exactly?

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Funding for roads, bridges

Although the country’s roads and bridges did not get as much traffic as usual on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 — with many workers trading their commute to the office for remote work — motorists these days are seeing traffic levels return to pre-pandemic levels.

On that front, the bill includes $110 billion in funding for roads and bridges. Furthermore, the White House said the funding will go in part toward rebuilding the country’s “most economically significant” bridges, plus thousands of smaller bridges.

According to a report earlier this year by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, more than 220,000 U.S. roads and bridges are in need of repair or replacement.

“ARTBA finds that while the number of structurally deficient (SD) bridges declined 2.5 percent last year to 45,000, the number of bridges falling into fair condition grew more than 3,600 to almost 295,000,” the association said.

“At the current pace, it would take 40 years to repair the current backlog of SD bridges.”

Further driving the point home, the American Society of Civil Engineers in March gave U.S. infrastructure a C- grade.

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The Raw Steels Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dropped by 2.5% month over month.

November 2021 Raw Steels MMI chart

Stop obsessing about the actual forecasted steel price. It’s more important to spot the trend

Auto steel demand shows weakness

auto production line

Ivan Traimak/Adobe Stock

Steel prices appear poised for a decline in coming months as auto steel demand shows weakness and new capacity is set to come online.

According to a report by Bloomberg, U.S. Steel Corp. recently offered “excess prime” steel that was previously earmarked for automotive companies. The firm made 50,000 tons of high-end steel from U.S. Steel Corp.’s Gary, Indiana facility — which is among the primary suppliers to U.S. auto companies — available to buyers after automakers declined to take on expected volumes.

While demand for automobiles remains strong, automakers continue to struggle with the ongoing semiconductor shortage.

Lead times for semiconductors have extended far above an average threshold of 9-12 weeks, hitting 22 weeks in October.

According to the Susquehanna Financial Group, power-management components stand at 25 weeks. Microcontroller lead times have ballooned to 38 weeks.

Falling auto production

Due to such shortages, automakers in recent months have either curtailed production or halted assembly lines altogether. Data from the Federal Reserve showed U.S. auto production plummet by 28.3% from August to September. September auto production fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.06 million vehicles.

While some automakers have managed to reopen shuttered factories, production is expected to remain far below average.

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