USDOT Announces Bridge Formula Program
Last week, President Joe Biden announced a new program launched by the U.S. Department of Transportation targeting the replacement and repair of the nation’s bridges as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program (Bridge Formula Program) will be administered by the Federal Highway Administration and represents the largest bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system.
According to 2021 data from the National Bridge Inventory, more than 43,000 bridges in the country are in poor condition.
"This is an investment is going to help connect entire towns and regions to new opportunities," Biden said. "With this investment we're sending a message to those communities and to the people who call them home: You matter. We're building back and building back better with you. We're making sure you're not left behind or left out."
A total of $26.5 billion will be provided to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over the next five years, and $825 million in funding for Tribal transportation facilities. In the 2022 fiscal year, $5.3 billion will be available to states, D.C. and Puerto Rico and $165 million for tribes.
Yesterday, @USDOT and FHWA announced the largest bridge investment since the construction of the Interstate highway system, which will improve bridges across the United States that need repair, rehabilitation, & reconstruction. https://t.co/rsWLOOrmeA @USDOT #BuildBackBridges pic.twitter.com/47YCK61Tk7— Federal Highway Admn (@USDOTFHWA) January 15, 2022
USDOT expects for the Bridge Formula Program to help repair approximately 15,000 highway bridges, as well as dedicate funding for Tribal transportation facility bridges and “off-system” bridges, or locally-owned facilities not on the federal-aid highway system.
As an incentive for off-system bridges owned by a county, city, town or other local agency, the new guidance notes that federal funds can be used for 100% of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating the structures. Typically, states must match federal funding with up to 20% state or local funding.
“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,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“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.”
“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,” Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said. “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.”
Funds are being allocated to states based on need, with states responsible for deciding what bridge projects get funded. According to reports, the administration is encouraging states to use funds to repair existing bridges when possible, but if choose to build new bridges should prioritize equity and address barriers to opportunity and challenges experienced by underserved communities.
A full map of bridges in poor condition and funding provided by state can be found here.
Infrastructure Bill Details
With the goal of rebuilding the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges, as well as funding new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act reportedly serves to deliver a key component in President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The White House also reports that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, alongside the Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next ten years.
“Tonight, we took a monumental step forward as a nation,” President Biden said in a statement following the 228-206 vote. “The United States House of Representatives passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a once-in-generation bipartisan infrastructure bill that will create millions of jobs, turn the climate crisis into an opportunity and put us on a path to win the economic competition for the 21st Century.”
That same month, the White House announced that President Biden named former New Orleans Mayor Landrieu as senior advisor responsible for the implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Earlier that week, Biden signed into law the largest federal investment in infrastructure in more than a decade.
Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010-2018, during Hurricane Katrina recovery and the BP Oil Spill. According to the White House statement, in that time he fast-tracked over 100 projects and secured billions in federal funding for roads, schools, hospitals, parks and critical infrastructure.
Prior to his mayoral term, Landrieu served two terms as lieutenant governor, 16 years in state legislature and as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He was named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing in 2015 and “America’s top turnaround mayor” in a Politico survey.
Landrieu launched E Pluribus Unum in 2018. The initiative aims to promote justice and opportunity by breaking down barriers from race and class.
“He also knows what it’s like to lead at the state level and will be able to work with and relate to governors and other state officials,” stated the White House press release. “And he has strong relationships in the business and labor communities, which will be essential in carrying out this job.”
In December, the White House announced that it had appointed two new advisors for the coordination of bipartisan infrastructure law. Katie Thomson will serve as the Director of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Implementation for the Department of Transportation, and Winnie Stachelberg was announced as Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator for the Department of the Interior.
In their new roles, Thomson and Stachelberg are expected to ensure that components of the bipartisan infrastructure bill are timely, on budget and in accordance with tasks, alongside the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force and Senior Advisor Mitch Landrieu.
According to CBS News, the Biden Administration said it planned to add more positions across agencies over the coming weeks and months, including new civil servant jobs.
Landrieu also reached out to state leaders at the beginning of the month encouraging them to appoint their own infrastructure coordinators to implement the $1.2 trillion law.
The three-page letter, sent to all the nation’s governors on Jan. 4, requested that they appoint a “high-level” representative to serve as the state’s own Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator. Landrieu also reportedly suggested that governors create task forces modeled after the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force created by President Joe Biden in November.
The role of these positions will help integrate aspects of the bill, including funding, alongside departments responsible for transportation, water, broadband and energy investments for projects.
In his letter, Landrieu also announced that his team, with the Office of Management and Budget, plan to release formal guidance to agencies to “help set the policy parameters for much of the discretionary and remaining formula funding in 2022 and beyond.” A guidebook for state and local governments that will include dates related to programs this year is also being prepared.