President Biden announces new investments in the nation’s bridges

Share this

Between a setback on voting rights and a stalled economic agenda, President Joe Biden on Friday sought to highlight his administration’s progress in implementing the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in November, announcing investments for nearly 27 billions of dollars to repair and replace the nation’s crumbling bridges.

The Department of Transportation launched the bridge replacement, rehabilitation, conservation, protection and construction program, which will provide $ 26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over five years and $ 825 million for structures of tribal transport.

“The Biden-Harris administration is thrilled to launch this program to repair thousands of bridges across the country, the largest investment dedicated to bridges since construction of the interstate highway system,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “The modernization of American bridges will help improve security, support economic growth and improve the lives of people in all parts of the country, in rural, suburban, urban and tribal communities.”

“This is an investment that will help connect entire cities and regions to new opportunities. With this investment, we are sending a message to those communities and the people who call them home: you are important. We are building and building back better with you. We are making sure that you are not left behind and left out, “Biden said in a comment Friday afternoon.

The president also talked about the progress the administration has made in the 60 days since it signed the bill, advertising billions of dollars to modernize highways, ports and actions to strengthen supply chain problems, as well as expand the business. access broadband internet access and addressing health and climate change impacts with investments.

The remarks come in the midst of a difficult week for Biden, after efforts to pass major voting rights legislation reached a roadblock in the Senate and the Supreme Court dealt a severe blow to his COVID response efforts, blocking a vaccination or testing mandate for large companies.

Recognizing comments about the uphill battle his agenda faces, Biden tried to show optimism.

“There is a lot of talk about disappointments and things we haven’t done,” Biden said. “We will do many, I might add, but this is something we have done. And it is of enormous importance to the country.”

Across the country, the bridge funding is expected to help repair some 15,000 highway bridges and will be awarded to each state on a needs-based basis, although the choice of projects to undertake is left to the states.

As funding for fiscal year 2022 is released immediately, states will learn their funding totals for all five years of the program in order to plan ahead, a senior administration official told reporters.

“As part of this announcement, the Federal Highway Administration will distribute $ 5.3 billion to the states, DC and Puerto Rico for the current federal fiscal year, along with $ 165 million to the tribes,” the official said.

Some of the states destined to receive the most funding include Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, and New York.

In addition to providing funds to states to replace and repair highway bridges, the program has dedicated funding for “off-system” bridges, which are often locally owned and not part of the federal highway system.

“While states generally must match federal funding with up to 20% state or local funding, the bipartisan infrastructure law allows the use of federal funds to pay the full cost – 100% of the cost – of repair or rehabilitation of local property-system bridges, “the official stressed.

“The department encourages governors and states to take advantage of this incentive to push their federal dollars beyond by focusing on local bridges,” they added.

While the program is expected to help repair thousands of bridges across the country, the administration is also looking to use the program to increase resilience when it comes to climate change, as well as making bridges safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Pressed on how the administration intended to strengthen its desire to focus funds on repairing existing bridges and emphasizing equity when new bridges are built, particularly in Republican-run states, the official brushed off the concern.

“Bridges in general are neither red nor blue. They are an important piece of infrastructure in communities,” the official said. “And the state transportation departments have a good track record of investing in bridges under the conditions of those bridges. And we are confident that with these funds and the guidance we have provided and the conversations we have had with them, they will direct the funds. to the bridges that are most in need of repairs “.


Share this

Leave a Comment