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DOT launches historic bridge investment program

By |  January 14, 2022
According to PennDOT, more than three-quarters of its annual budget is invested in Pennsylvania's 120,000 miles of state and local highways and 32,000 state and local bridges. Photo: Alex Potemkin / iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The Bridge Formula Program provides $26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Photo: Alex Potemkin / iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched the Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection & Construction Program under the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA), which passed with bipartisan support in November.

According to DOT, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will administer the program, which represents the largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system. The program will provide $26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over five years and $825 million for tribal transportation facilities.

In fiscal year 2022, DOT says $5.3 billion will be made available to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with $165 million made available for tribal governments.

“The Biden-Harris administration is thrilled to launch this program to fix thousands of bridges across the country – the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system,” says Pete Buttigieg, U.S. transportation secretary. “Modernizing America’s bridges will help improve safety, support economic growth and make people’s lives better in every part of the country – across rural, suburban, urban and tribal communities.”

The program, more commonly referred to as the Bridge Formula Program, is expected to help repair about 15,000 highway bridges, according to DOT. Additionally, the program allocates dedicated funding for tribal transportation facility bridges and “off-system” bridges, which are generally locally-owned facilities not on the federal-aid highway system.

IIJA includes an incentive for states to direct the Bridge Formula Program funds to off-system bridges owned by a county, city, town or other local agency. While states generally must match federal funding with up to 20 percent state or local funding, the new program allows federal funds to be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating such locally owned off-system bridges, DOT says. Specific to the FHWA, IIJA provides more than $350 billion over five fiscal years for surface transportation programs.

FHWA released the first tranche of Bridge Formula Program funding to states for fiscal year 2022 in addition to the program guidance.

“This record amount of funding, made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law, will allow states and tribal governments to fix the bridges most in need of repair,” says Stephanie Pollack, deputy federal highway administrator. “It will also modernize bridges to withstand the effects of climate change and to make them safer for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Every state has bridges in poor condition and in need of repair, including bridges with weight restrictions that may force lengthy detours for travelers, school buses, first responders or trucks carrying freight.”

Carly Bemer

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) is the associate editor at Pit & Quarry. She can be reached at 216-363-7930 or cbemer@northcoastmedia.net.

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