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President Biden announces new investment in nation’s bridges

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President Biden announces new investment in nation’s bridges

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Amid a setback on voting rights and a stalled economic agenda, President Joe Biden sought Friday to highlight the progress his administration has made in implementing the bipartisan infrastructure law passed in November, announcing nearly $27 billion in investments to repair and replace the country’s crumbling bridges.

The Department of Transportation launched the Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection and Construction Program, which will provide $26.5 billion to the states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over five years and $825 million dollars for tribal transportation facilities.

“The Biden-Harris administration is delighted to launch this program to repair thousands of bridges across the country – the largest investment in bridges since the construction of the interstate highway system,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a press release. “Modernizing America’s bridges will help improve safety, 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 these communities and the people who live in them: you matter. We rebuild and build better with you. We’re making sure you don’t get left behind and left out,” Biden said in remarks Friday afternoon.

The president also spoke about the progress he says the administration has made in the 60 days since he signed the bill, touting billions of dollars to upgrade highways, ports and measures to strengthening supply chain issues, as well as expanding high-speed internet access. access, and addressing health and climate change impacts with investments.

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

Acknowledging the comments about the uphill battle his agenda now faces, Biden tried to sound optimistic.

“There’s a lot of talk about disappointments and things we didn’t do,” Biden said. “We’re going to do a lot, I might add, but it’s something we did. And it’s of huge consequence for the country.”

Across the country, the bridge funding is expected to help repair approximately 15,000 highway bridges and will be allocated to each state on a needs-based formula – although the choice of projects undertaken will be left to the states.

As funding for fiscal year 2022 is released immediately, states will know their funding totals for the full 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 states, DC and Puerto Rico for the current federal fiscal year, as well as $ 165 million to tribes,” the official said.

Some of the states that are expected to receive the most funding are Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, and New York.

In addition to providing funds to states to replace and repair road bridges, the program has dedicated funding to “off-system” bridges, which are often owned by local communities and are not part of the federal road network.

“While states typically 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 – repair or overhaul of local property. – the bridges of the system “, underlined the person in charge.

“The department encourages governors and states to use this incentive to leverage their federal dollars further 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 in the face of climate change, as well as to make bridges safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Pressed on how the administration planned to enforce its desire to focus funds on repairs to existing bridges and emphasizing fairness when building new bridges, especially in states ruled by the Republicans, the official dismissed the concern.

“Bridges in general are neither red nor blue. They are an important infrastructure in communities,” the official said. “And state transportation departments have a good track record of investing in bridges based on the condition of those bridges. And we’re confident that with these funds and with the guidance we’ve provided and with the conversations we’ve had with them, they’re going to direct the funds to the bridges that need fixing the most. “

President Biden announces new investment in nation’s bridges

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