Applications Open for Competitive Bridge Funding
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it has opened a call for applications for the competitive Bridge Investment Program established under the bipartisan infrastructure law. According to the release from the Federal Highway Administration, the program will provide $12.5 billion over five years, with nearly $2.4 billion available in Fiscal Year 2022 to help plan, replace, rehabilitate, protect and preserve the nation’s bridges.
“With resources from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re thrilled to begin accepting applications for one of the most significant investments in our bridges in decades, fixing everything from America’s most economically significant bridges to smaller bridges that mean everything to a local community,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
“When these bridges are repaired, the American people will benefit from greater safety, lower shipping costs for consumers and maintenance costs for drivers, faster movement of goods across our supply chains, fuel savings, and precious time being returned to their day.”
The Bridge Investment Program is a competitive, discretionary program that focus on the repair, rehabilitation or replacement of existing bridges in the country. The goal is to reduce the overall number of bridges in poor condition, as well as aid bridges in fair condition at risk of declining into poor condition.
FHWA today opens a call for 1st round of applications for the competitive Bridge Investment Program, providing $12.5B over 5 years including $2.4B for FY22 to help plan, replace, rehabilitate, protect & preserve some of the nation's largest bridges. https://t.co/eZL0NHqFzC pic.twitter.com/5VGWOcpDxQ— Federal Highway Admn (@USDOTFHWA) June 10, 2022
Additionally, the program expands applicant eligibilities to create opportunity for all levels of government to be direct recipients of program funds. States, federal lands management agencies, metropolitan planning organizations and local and tribal governments can apply directly to the program, reportedly making it easier to advance bridge projects at a local level.
The DOT reports that the Bridge Investment Program funding is unique in three areas because it:
The new competitive grant program is in addition to the $27 billion in formula funding through the Bridge Formula Program announced at the beginning of the year by the FHWA. In total, the $40 billion investment is expected to fund numerous bridge improvement projects across all 50 states.
“These funds will make a significant contribution to improving the condition of our nation’s aging bridges, both large, signature bridge projects that are important for our national economy as well as smaller structures that provide benefits at the regional and local levels and are critical for communities across the country,” Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.
“FHWA has designed this program to meet the needs of communities and bridges of all sizes, including those that are still in the planning stage.”
The FHWA plans to include a Zoom webinar for public engagement, as well as provide technical assistance to recipients of the Bridge Investment Program grants. The Notice of Funding Opportunity can be viewed here.
Bridge Formula Program
In January, Biden announced the new program launched by the DOT 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 FWHA 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 at the time. “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.
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 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,” added Pollack. “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.