One of the big changes brought about by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is its significant funding through the National Bridge Repair and Replacement Formula Program.
Breaches with U.S. bridges were identified as one of the big priorities in the law, so in March, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released $5.5 billion for its Bridge Investment Program, together with guidance on how the program will work.
“Over the length of this program, it is going to provide $27 billion to states to fix an estimated 15,000 bridges,” Perez said. “That's an average of 60 bridges, per state, per year, over the five-year period of the bill. That is a lot of bridges.”
“The distribution of those funds is largely up to states, and usually, state DOTs will make those funding decisions,” Perez said. “And at least 15 percent must be allocated to local, off-system bridges that are not part of the national highway system. Qualifying non-roadway bridges will also be eligible for a 100 percent matching grant.”
The amount of money flowing to the states is based on the cost and condition of bridges in each state, and it places priority on bridges that are closed or bridges with weight restrictions. A list of eligible, high-priority bridges is available by the FHWA to highlight all bridges that are eligible for funding.
New bridges are also eligible for funding, but are a lower priority and would need to address areas of emphasis that include equity, resilience, safety, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, multimodal connectivity and bicycle-pedestrian considerations.
In addition, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the first round of its competitive Bridge Investment Program in June. The program will provide $12.5 billion over five years with nearly $2.4 billion in finding available in Fiscal Year 2022.
The Bridge Investment Program prioritizes the rehabilitation of bridges in fair condition and replacing unsafe bridges in poor condition. It features two types of construction grants covering “large” projects over $100 million and “bridge projects” for up to $100 million.
Together FHWA’s formula funding and competitive grants make $8.8 billion available to states and local regions for bridge improvements in Fiscal Year 2022.