Culpeper Star-Exponent: Virginia bridges to benefit from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT, CLINT SCHEMMER

America’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law keeps making it rain for Virginia.

The commonwealth will receive $536.8 million from it, the largest-ever investment in its bridges, three members of the state’s congressional delegation say.

U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, plus Rep. Abigail Spanberger in a separate announcement, heralded the launch Friday of a U.S. Department of Transportation initiative devoted to repairing bridges across the nation.

USDOT’s Bridge Replacement, Rehabilitation, Preservation, Protection, and Construction Program was made possible by the passage of the infrastructure law negotiated by Warner and Spanberger and supported by Kaine.

Warner was instrumental in securing the historic investment in Virginia’s bridges, his office said.

In its Culpeper District alone, the Virginia Department of Transportation estimates that 59 bridges are in “poor” condition, a Warner spokeswoman said. The funds will go toward fixing such decaying bridges.

For the full list of such bridges and their status, go to infobridge.fhwa.dot.gov and select Virginia.

In the House of Representatives, Spanberger helped negotiate and voted to pass the infrastructure bill late last year.

In the USDOT program’s first round of funding, Virginia was awarded $107.42 million for bridge projects in fiscal 2022, Spanberger announced Friday.

“Such an urgent issue of public safety cannot be ignored, and this major investment in Virginia’s infrastructure must be used by VDOT and the incoming Youngkin administration to make improvements as soon as possible,” the congresswoman said in a statement. “This funding will allow our commonwealth to fix bridges in poor condition, help prevent congestion, increase weight restrictions, and make our roads safer for drivers and first responders. Additionally, it will help create and sustain good-paying construction jobs throughout our area—while keeping our physical infrastructure competitive.”

In November 2021, Spanberger attended the White House signing ceremony for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. After strongly advocating for the bill and highlighting the benefits for Central Virginia, Spanberger voted to pass the physical infrastructure legislation with a bipartisan majority of the House members earlier that month.

The bridge program is an important investment in making transportation safer and more reliable, the senators said. All total, USDOT rates 577 bridges across Virginia as being in poor condition.

A key author of the infrastructure law, Warner said the bridge initiative is just one of the transformative investments coming to Virginia because of its passage.

“Modernizing bridges will improve safety and support economic growth in every corner of the commonwealth,” he and Kaine said. “Today’s announcement is one more reason we were proud to support the once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment that is improving lives and livelihoods across the country.”

In July 2021, Warner joined Richmond officials for a tour of Richmond’s Mayo Bridge, built in 1913 across the James River. It is one of the hundreds of Virginia bridges considered structurally deficient and expected to benefit from the infrastructure bill.

In December 2021, Kaine joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in Richmond and Henrico County to discuss how the $7.7 billion in federal funds that Virginia expects to receive from the infrastructure bill will be used to repair and replace roads and bridges and improve public transportation.

The bridge program also dedicates funding for tribal bridges as well as “off-system” bridges—locally owned facilities not part of the federal-aid highway system, Spanberger said.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act incentivizes states to direct money to off-system bridges owned by a county, city, town or other local agency, Spanberger’s office said. Normally, states must match federal funding with up to 20 percent state or local funding. But under the program, federal funds can be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating locally owned off-system bridges.

Warner, Kaine and Spanberger are Democrats.

Learn more about the USDOT Bridge Formula Program, go to fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/20220114.

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