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Government & Politics

Bridge Funding in Infrastructure Law on the Way to States, Including Nearly $82M for Maryland

President Joseph R. Biden delivers a speech at the Port of Baltimore in November, celebrating the passage of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. On Friday, his administration announced that bridge repair funding is now headed to states. Photo by Hannah Gaskill.

The federal government will begin releasing more than $5 billion for distressed bridges in the first year of funding under the recent infrastructure law, President Joe Biden said in a Friday video message.

The federal government is expected to spend $26.5 billion over five years for the bridge program.

The figure represents the largest spending on bridges since the Interstate Highway System was created, Biden said. The 2022 allotment, which the U.S. Department of Transportation will begin to release Friday, is $5.3 billion.

More than 45,000 bridges across the country are in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That includes 273 in Maryland, among them a stretch of I-895 in Baltimore and the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County.

The federal government would also waive the requirement that states and local governments provide matching funds for bridge improvements outside of the interstate system, Biden said.

Maryland is expected to receive $81.9 million this fiscal year, and $409.5 million during the five-year program.

“This will not only improve the day-to-day lives of Marylanders but also create hundreds of good-paying jobs in the process,” members of the Maryland Democratic Congressional Delegation said in a joint statement. “These funds are key to modernizing our state’s transportation network, keeping drivers safe, and bolstering our infrastructure’s resiliency to risks posed by climate change.”

Biden emphasized funding for smaller bridges off the Interstate system.

Those off-network bridges account for about two-thirds of the total in need of repair, he said.

“These bridges are often overlooked when decisions are being made, but they are essential,” he said. “We’re sending the message to these communities that you matter. We’re making sure that you’re not left behind and left out.”

Nearly one-third of the bridge funding, $12.5 billion, will go toward repairing and replacing “the most economically significant bridges in the country,” Biden said — specifying the Brent Spence Bridge connecting Ohio and Kentucky, the Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington and the Blatnik Bridge between Minnesota and Wisconsin.