The Benjamin Harrison Bridge over the lower James was rated in “fair condition” by VDOT in 2018. (Spencer Tassone/Virginia Commonwealth University)
The federal government will begin releasing more than $5 billion for distressed bridges in the first year of funding under the recent infrastructure law, President Joe Biden said in a Friday video message.
He specifically mentioned the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky, the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington and the Blatnik Bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The law would provide money over the next five years to address bridges in need of repair and waive the requirement that states and local governments provide matching funds, Biden said.
The figure represents the largest spending on bridges since the Interstate Highway System was created, Biden said.
More than 45,000 bridges across the country are in poor condition, according to the Transportation Department. There are 577 bridges in Virginia listed in “poor condition,” according to the department, and the commonwealth is expected to get more than half a billion dollars over the next five years to help fix them, according to the department.
The department lists $26.5 billion over five years for the bridge program.
The 2022 allotment, which the U.S. Transportation Department will begin to release Friday, is $5.3 billion.
Biden emphasized funding for smaller bridges off the Interstate system.
Those off-network bridges account for about two-thirds of the total in need of repair, he said.
“These bridges are often overlooked when decisions are being made, but they are essential,” he said. “We’re sending the message to these communities that you matter. We’re making sure that you’re not left behind and left out.”
Nearly one-third of the bridge funding, $12.5 billion, will go toward repairing and replacing “the most economically significant bridges in the country,” Biden said — specifying the Ohio-Kentucky, Oregon-Washington and Minnesota-Wisconsin bridges.
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