President Joe Biden on Friday announced a new program to repair and replace the nation's bridges through funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law that passed Congress in November.
"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," Biden said at the White House.
There are more than 43,000 bridges in poor condition across the country, according to 2021 data from the National Bridge Inventory.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration is launching the Bridge Formula Program, which will provide $26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over the next five years, as well as $825 million for tribal bridges, according to a senior administration official.
The official added that the Federal Highway Administration will distribute $5.3 billion to states, DC and Puerto Rico during the 2021 fiscal year, along with $155 million to tribes, the official added.
"This represents the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the interstate highway system," the official said.
The program is expected to improve 15,000 highway bridges, according to the official, as well as "off system" bridges that carry smaller roads and are not part of the federal highway system. Under the new program, the entire cost of repairing or rehabilitating "off system" bridges can be covered with federal funds. Funding from the program also can be used to make bridges more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.
Experts have argued that updates and repairs of the nation's infrastructure could play an important role in moving goods and people across the country more efficiently and could help prevent a future supply chain crisis. The country's current infrastructure system received a C- score from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2021.
"It is a once-in-a-generation investment that will grow the economy, enhance the competitiveness in the world, create good jobs and make our transportation more sustainable and equitable," the official said.
The $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law includes $550 billion in new infrastructure investments that range from roads and bridges to airports, mass transit, waterways and energy systems.