FHWA Opens Applications for $2.36 Billion to Upgrade Bridges

Mitch Landrieu speaks at the event. (U.S. Department of Transportation via YouTube)

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The Federal Highway Administration has issued a $2.36 billion funding notice to open applications for states and local officials to apply for money to improve bridge projects across the nation.

Mitch Landrieu, senior White House infrastructure adviser, and Stephanie Pollack, deputy federal highway administrator, jointly announced the funding opportunity June 10 in Washington, D.C., at the foot of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

Mentioning that $110 billion in federal infrastructure funds already has been “pushed out,” Landrieu noted the importance of the new bridge funding stream to repair and upgrade “big, big bridges, medium bridges and small bridges that are economically significant.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg issued a statement earlier in the day; he didn’t attend the event while recovering after catching COVID-19. “When these bridges are repaired, the American people will benefit from greater safety, lower shipping costs for consumers and maintenance costs for drivers, faster movement of goods across our supply chains, fuel savings and precious time being returned to their day,” Buttigieg said.

With the Frederick Douglass Bridge in the background, Pollack referred to that replacement of a 70-year-old structure as representing “exactly the work we can do through the bridge investment program.”

She noted that more than 45,000 bridges across country are in poor condition, with more at risk of falling into poor condition and 71,000 bridges have weight posted restrictions.

“When bridges are modern, well-maintained and safe for everyone using them, they are literally the connective tissue for our highway and street networks. But too many bridges are no longer in good condition or are outdated and not as safe as they need to be for the people who drive, walk or bike over them,” Pollack said.

The FHWA will provide oversight for grant recipients on project planning, design and construction.

This notice of funding opportunity opens up applications for the first funding round (fiscal-year 2022) from the Bipartisan Investment Program’s five-year allocation of $12.5 billion to help plan, replace, rehabilitate, protect and preserve some of the nation’s largest bridges.

FHWA designed this competitive bridge funding program to meet the needs of communities and bridges of all sizes, including those in planning stages. The funds will be awarded on a competitive basis for three types of bridge investments: planning; bridge projects with eligible costs less than $100 million and large bridge projects for those more than $100 million.

According to the notice, DOT encourages large bridge project and seeks to award funds first to those large bridges in poor or fair condition that are at risk of worsening within the next three years.

The 2022 Bridge Investment Program Grants notice spans 67 pages and lists the following deadlines: July 25 for planning project applications, Aug. 9 for large bridge project applications and Sept. 8 for bridge project applications.

Grant application templates for each of the projects have been developed to make accessing funds easier for local and state officials. Applicants are reminded about a federal funding requirement that construction of bridge or large bridge projects is expected to begin no later than 18 months after the date funds are obligated for a project and its preliminary engineering is complete.

This new competitive grant program is in addition to more than $27 billion in formula bridge funding to fix an estimated 15,000 off-system bridges (those not connected to interstates) nationwide that USDOT announced earlier this year, Landrieu said.

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