WASHINGTON – In his new $ 2.25 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal, President Joe Biden pledges to fix the 10 most “economically important” bridges in need of rebuilding and to repair 10,000 more small bridges .
But the US jobs plan does not identify which of the country’s 618,000 bridges would receive the work.
Instead, Biden’s plan would create a competitive subsidy program for a state to argue to the Department of Transportation that one of its large bridges deserves reconstruction or replacement.
Think of it as a kind of competition for states to present their most dilapidated or obsolete bridges based on their condition or inability to handle increasing traffic volumes.Other factors could include the size of a bridge or its importance to the regional or national economy.
“We expect this to be how it is structured,” said Jen Psaki, White House press secretary. “All of this will be discussed and finalized in our conversations with members of Congress.”
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But the process for determining which 10,000 small bridges would be overhauled is less clear.
Psaki said other transport projects in Biden’s infrastructure plan – for example, the modernization of 20,000 kilometers of highways and roads, which is also not specified – would be funded by grants from formula. The same approach could be extended to small bridges.
These grants are awarded to cities and states based on calculations that may include a project’s mileage, traffic volume, and an area’s population. It is the most common way for transportation projects to receive federal funds, allowing states to administer how the dollars are used.
Overall, Biden’s U.S. Jobs Plan offers $ 621 billion in transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rail ports, Amtrak, and electric vehicle stations.
Still, it would suffice to repair less than 1 in 4 of the 45,000 bridges considered “structurally deficient,” according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s 2021 Bridge Condition Report, based on a Federal Highway inventory. Administration. ARTBA, a lobbying organization for the road and transportation industry, estimates that it would take 40 years to repair every poorly rated bridge at the current rate.
Recent high-profile bridge disasters in the United States include a pedestrian bridge in Miami that collapsed in 2018 on a busy road, killing six people; a 2007 collapse of the Minneapolis Bridge over Interstate 35 over the Mississippi River that killed 13 people; and the 1993 collapse of an Amtrak railway bridge in Mobile, Alabama, killing 47 people.
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According to the Federal Highway Administration inventory, seven of the 10 most heavily trafficked structurally deficient bridges are in California, two in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and one in the Chicago area. Each is either an urban interstate bridge or a highway bridge.
The busiest bridge considered structurally deficient is in the United States. Route 101 on Kester Avenue in Los Angeles. It was built in 1959 and accommodates 289,000 daily travelers. The second is also in Los Angeles – Interstate 5 on Marietta Street, built in 1948. This bridge has 258,000 daily trips.
Alison Black, chief economist at the ARTBA, said the funding proposed by Biden would mark a “significant increase, in all different modes, from what we have now.” His group is also pushing for the reauthorization of the Federal FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act), an Obama-era law that funds around $ 45 billion a year for federal highways and $ 12.3 billion for infrastructure. public. The law expires at the end of September.
So which 10 Great Bridges might be most likely to gain funding in Biden’s plan?
“This is the burning question we would all like to know,” Black said. “It will really depend on the criteria they are looking at.”
No more bridges added because structurally deficient
Several bridges were listed as “structurally deficient” after 2020, which were not previously, including:
- US Highway 101 on the Los Angeles River, California
- Newburgh-Beacon Bridge over the Hudson River in Orange County, New York
- Corpus Christi Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, Texas
- Sidney Sherman Bridge on Interstate 610 on the Houston Ship Channel in Houston
- WE. 377 on Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma border
- J. Stanley Tunney Bridge over the Toms River in Ocean County, New Jersey
- US 90 East Bound on the San Jacinto River near Houston
- McClugage Bridge (Westbound) and the Cedar Street Bridge over the Illinois River in Peoria, Illinois
- The two spans of the I-494 Minnesota River crossing in Hennepin County, Minnesota
- Sacramento River Bridge in Glenn County, California
- Jefferson Barracks Bridge in Saint Louis
- Central Avenue Bridge over the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kansas
- Duwamish River Bridge (Westbound) in Seattle
And the states with the highest percentage of bridges in poor condition are:
- West Virginia: 21%
- Iowa: 19.1%
- Rhode Island: 19%
- South Dakota: 17.7%
- Pennsylvania: 14.6%
- Maine: 12.7%
- Louisiana: 12.7%
- Puerto Rico: 12.1%
- Michigan: 10.8%
- North Dakota: 10.3%
The ranking is based on the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s 2021 Bridge Condition Report, citing the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) National Bridge Inventory (NBI) day.
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