In a press conference on June 9, 2022, White House Senior Advisor & Infrastructure Implementation Coordinator Mitch Landrieu, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Deputy Administrator Stephanie Pollack previewed the new Competitive Bridge Investment Program. This is part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In addition to states and federal lands management agencies, this competitive grant program will allow metropolitan planning organizations and local and tribal governments to apply directly to FHWA, making it easier to advance bridge projects at the local level.
Mitch Landrieu discussed the reason that the Competitive Bridge Investment Program is essential for improving infrastructure, supply chain issues, and the daily lives of every American. Primarily, more than 45,000 bridges are in poor repair, and many may need replacement. These bridges often cause traffic problems, increase fuel use if detours are required, lengthen commute times and damage vehicles if potholes or other degradation are present. Beginning June 10, 2022, $12.5 billion over five years will be available as part of the new Competitive Bridge Investment Program. According to Landrieu this program will build figurative and literal bridges that improve people’s lives.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg went on to discuss the effects of bridges in poor repair and said that bridge problems “affect everyone and can hurt an entire region.”
When FHWA Deputy Administrator Stephanie Pollack spoke, she stated, “There is no question. We need to fix our bridges.” She also mentioned that the $12.5 billion in competitive grants is the single largest investment in bridges since the interstate system was built.
During the Q&A, I asked about sustainability, which is one of the criteria for the grant. The question was: Will any weight be given to projects if sustainability-focused construction companies—such as companies that use electric equipment or alternative fuels like hydrogen—are included in these projects. The response was yes, in two important categories: sustainability and resiliency. Applicants for the grants can include information about their plans for sustainability, including construction processes and equipment/materials used. The resiliency of the structure can also be shared, including how resilient the structure will be to wear, aging and other problems. OEMs can help their customers and clients with these grant applications by informing them of ways the equipment offers decreased carbon dioxide emissions and other sustainability improvements the equipment may provide.
More Details from the Official Press Release
Applications are now open for the Competitive Bridge Investment Program. The program will provide $12.5 billion over five years. Nearly $2.4 billion will be available in Fiscal Year 2022 to help plan, replace, rehabilitate, protect and preserve some of the nation’s largest bridges.
This competitive grant program comes on top of more than $27 billion in formula bridge funding that the U.S. Department of Transportation announced earlier this year. This investment will help ensure that some of the nation’s most important bridges remain operational. It will also:
- Support local economies
- Strengthen supply chains
- Improve safety
- Create good-paying jobs across the country
"With resources from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we're thrilled to begin accepting applications for one of the most significant investments in our bridges in decades, fixing everything from America's most economically significant bridges to smaller bridges that mean everything to a local community," said Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "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."
The Bridge Investment Program is a competitive, discretionary program. It focuses on the repair, rehabilitation, or replacement of existing bridges across the country to reduce the overall number of those bridges either in poor condition, or in fair condition at risk of declining into poor condition. It also expands applicant eligibilities to create opportunity for all levels of government to be direct recipients of program funds.
“These funds will make a significant contribution to improving the condition of our nation’s aging bridges, both large, signature bridge projects that are important for our national economy as well as smaller structures that provide benefits at the regional and local levels and are critical for communities across the country,” Deputy Administrator Stephanie Pollack said. “FHWA has designed this program to meet the needs of communities and bridges of all sizes, including those that are still in the planning stage.”
Bridge Investment Program funding is unique in three key areas:
- Allows multiyear grant agreements to fund large projects by making it possible to take a project through preconstruction activities and into construction.
- Offers grants that help fund the planning process, including planning, feasibility analysis and revenue forecasting associated with the development of a project that would subsequently be eligible to apply for the Bridge Investment Program.
- Offers two types of construction grants, covering “large” projects over $100 million and "bridge projects” at up to $100 million.
The FHWA plans to conduct extensive community outreach and public engagement throughout the application process that will include a Zoom Webinar. Technical assistance is also available to recipients who receive Bridge Investment Program grants. The Notice of Funding Opportunity is available at BIP. Read the full release here.