WASHINGTON — Florida will receive roughly $245 million to repair and improve its bridges over five years under President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the Department of Transportation announced Friday.
The state has 408 bridges in poor condition, according to the agency’s 2020 National Bridge Inventory report. Florida will receive $49 million in federal aid to replace and preserve bridges during the 2022 federal fiscal year, which lasts through September.
The Federal Highway Administration will distribute $26.5 billion to upgrade bridges in states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over five years under the law.
The money for repairing bridges is part of a larger $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure signed into law by Biden in November and backed by a bipartisan coalition of Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
“Communities are impacted, businesses are impacted when bridges fall into poor condition, and lives are impacted from these delays and detours becoming a real cost,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters. “And now we have the resources that we can share with our states to address those costs by investing in our communities and their bridges.”
The official said that the money is the largest effort to fix bridges since the Interstate Highway System was built in 1956.
Money is intended for repairs and improvements
The funding is designed primarily to fix bridges rather than build new ones, White House officials say, though it can be used to make bridges more accessible to bicyclists or pedestrians. The funding can also be directed to locally owned bridges, with the federal government picking up all of the cost.
“This is not just a today, or next week, or next year investment,” said a senior administration official. “It’s really five years of funding that we know will be invested over many years.”
Florida has fewer bridges in poor condition than other large states. California and New York, for example, both have more than 1,500 bridges in poor condition.
Pennsylvania leads all states with 3,353 bridges in poor condition and is set to receive more than $1.6 billion under the program, according to the Department of Transportation data.
The president and members of Congress have hailed the infrastructure investment as a badly needed source of funding to rebuild the country’s dilapidated physical infrastructure, after previous presidents and lawmakers had tried — and failed — for years to pass similar legislation.
More funding for more projects still to come
In addition to bridges, the law is designed to rebuild roads, upgrade the electrical grid, expand broadband internet access and replace old water pipes, among other initiatives.
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White House officials say funding announcements for other projects will arrive in the coming months and year. They also add that, although the projects might start to receive funding this year, most of them will take years to finish.
The infrastructure law is one of Biden’s signature legislative accomplishments since taking office. While that is implemented, however, the rest of Biden’s agenda appears to be in serious peril.
A broad social spending and climate change bill, known as Build Back Better, remains stalled in Congress amid opposition from all Republican lawmakers and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, whose vote the president needs to advance the bill out of the Senate.