On Friday, President Joe Biden announced that the federal government would be footing the bill for the repair of small bridges across the country.
"And because maintaining these bridges is often the responsibility of counties or towns whose budgets are stretched thin already, we decided to get rid of the requirement that counties or towns share in the cost. The federal government is going to pay for 100 percent of the cost for repairing these small bridges," Biden said Friday during remarks on the infrastructure bill.
"Today we're releasing the first year of that program, which is $5.5 billion, five-and-a-half billion dollars to states and tribes repairing and rebuilding bridges to make them safer and more usable. This investment is going to help connect entire towns and regions to new opportunities," he continued.
Biden noting during his speech that he and other administration officials have visited bridges across the country in desperate need of repairs.
One of these, in New Hampshire, has reached a point where if it is not repaired, weight limit restrictions would prohibit large vehicles like fire trucks and school buses from crossing, with the route to get around the bridge adding an additional 10 miles to a trip.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg reportedly visited another bridge in bad shape today in Philadelphia. The Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, which crosses the Schuylkill River, is no longer safe for vehicles to cross. It used to see 25,000 vehicles crossing it per day.
In Louisiana, Biden said he visited the I-10 bridge with the New Orleans Mayor, which is 20 years past its planned life, and is two lanes narrower than the interstate that feeds into it.
"My bipartisan infrastructure law includes the largest investment in our nation's bridges since the creation of the Interstate Highway System—bridges to connect us bridges to make America work. Across our country right now, there are 45,000 bridges 45,000 that are in poor condition," said Biden.
"One thing I'm certain of: Everyone out there knows what I'm talking about. People have written me about bridges they depend on. One man told me that the bridge he traveled on every day is a tragedy waiting to happen. One woman wrote that a bridge near the center of her town had to be closed, and now she drives — now the drivers and tours bypass downtown, consequently devastating local businesses," said Biden.
"My infrastructure law includes a total of $14 billion in funding for bridge improvements. $12.5 billion of that is going to replace the most economically significant bridges in the country," Biden said.
"But about two-thirds of bridges in need of repair in this country are considered what they call off system because they're not directly connected to the interstate highway system. These are the bridges are often overlooked when decisions are being made, but they are essential for small towns, rural towns, farmers to get their products to market, small businesses to be able to serve customers," Biden added.
"These are the bridges that when they're closed, shut off deliveries and routes to school, work and home. They create longer delays for first responders when every second counts. So we've included $27.5 billion for smaller bridges including dedicated funding for those off system bridges I just described," Biden continued.