Bridges may soon be eligible for federal funding
As the nation’s bridges continue to age, states hope the federal government will provide increased resources to repair and rebuild them. Legislation recently introduced from the United States Senate would provide $75 billion over the next 10 years into a new competitive grant program for repairing bridges. The Bridge Investment Act, introduced Jan. 4, would provide resources to improve the safety and performance of structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. This designation applies to 23 percent of the U.S. bridge network. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates the United States has a $123 billion bridge repair backlog, including $17 billion in needed improvements to rural and local bridges.
The Bridge Investment Act also would help repair bridges of any size in urban and rural areas, require all projects to use American-made steel and iron for bridge projects funded by the bill; and streamline the project application process for a variety of entities allowed to seek grants by bundling medium and small projects into one application.
Mississippi lawmakers are taking action on bridges this legislative session. The proposals include $50 million in bonds and redirecting 50 percent of the growth in years the economy grows by more than 2 percent. Another would devote a portion of voluntary online sales tax collections to roads and bridges.
A transportation project that runs from Rye or Port Chester to Syosset on Long Island saw renewed support from state government last week for a billion-dollar tunnel or bridge. A state-funded study estimates the 18-mile tunnel would cost between $31.5 and $55.4 billion, a bridge would cost $13 billion and a hybrid bridge-tunnel would cost $32 billion. The study also confirmed the projects feasibility and necessity as it found a tunnel would reduce travel time by up to an hour. The Department of Transportation was directed to conduct additional engineering, environmental and financial analysis necessary to move forward with the project. The state is considering a public-private partnership to help finance the structure.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will prepare its bridges during the summer months for future earthquakes. The state plans to spend $19 million to retrofit two bridges and replace two more along U.S. Highway 97 between Madras and the Washington border. In 2019, ODOT has planned bridge replacements and retrofits along U.S. Highway 97 near Klamath Falls. The state will raise gas taxes and vehicle registration fees to help fund the projects.
The Riley Slough Bridge 155, built in 1930 on Tualco Road, is supported by timber piles that are decaying. Snohomish County, in Washington State, will seek construction bids in the fall for a $4.4 million concrete bridge. Federal grants will cover 80 percent of the cost. Once the bridge is replaced, the county will be down to three remaining bridges in its inventory of more than 200 that are considered structurally deficient.
Ramsey County, in Minnesota, plans to move forward with a new Rice Street bridge at Interstate 694, with construction beginning in 2018. Construction and right-of-way is estimated at $27.1 million with an additional $4 million for design and construction engineering.
The Greensferry bridge, located over the Spokane River at Post Falls, Idaho, closed 50 years ago. An engineer with the Post Falls High District is reviewing the site to make sure a bridge will fit in the existing right of way. This old bridge was closed in September 1967 because it was in poor condition. It was dismantled in 1971. The cost for the bridge is estimated at $8.5 million, but a construction date has not been determined.