The bridges of Ottawa County need help, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has now dedicated an historic investment in Ohio’s bridges as part of the largest Bridge Formula Program in American history.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will receive $96.7 million in funding immediately through the bridge formula program, with a total of $483.3 million over five years. USDOT will begin making grants later this year under the Bridge Investment Act, to repair and replace significant national bridges, like the Brent Spence Bridge in Ohio and Kentucky, and support additional local bridge repairs.
This historic investment was made possible through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). It will ensure American labor, iron, and steel are used for these publicly funded projects.
“This historic funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law is going to create jobs to rebuild Ohio’s bridges and make our communities more competitive. Ohio has more than 3,200 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced to make them safer, and more funding opportunities will be coming soon,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown.
The formula funding for bridge repair and replacement will be followed later this year by an announcement of the availability of the funding for the Bridge Investment Program.
The $12.5 billion of competitive grants will provide the funding necessary to replace bridges like the Brent Spence, which carries 3 percent of the nation’s GDP every day. The Brent Spence Bridge is a double decker, cantilevered truss bridge that carries Interstates 71 and 75 across the Ohio River between Covington, Ky. and Cincinnati. The top deck carries Kentucky-bound traffic while the bottom deck carries Ohio-bound traffic.
Nationwide, the Bridge Formula Program is expected to help repair approximately 15,000 bridges. In addition to providing funds to states to replace, rehabilitate, preserve, protect, and construct highway bridges, the Bridge Formula Program has dedicated funding for Tribal transportation facility bridges as well as “off-system” bridges, locally owned facilities which are those not on the federal-aid highway system.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes an incentive for states to direct the new Bridge Formula Program funds to off-system bridges owned by a county, city, town or other local agency. While states normally must match federal funding with up to 20 percent state or local funding, the guidance issued now notes federal funds can be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating such locally owned off-system bridges.
The Bridge Formula Program represents the largest investment ever made in fixing bridges – dedicating $26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico over the five years of the law and $825 million for Tribal transportation facilities. The total amount that will be available to states, D.C. and Puerto Rico in Fiscal Year 2022 is $5.3 billion along with $165 million for tribes.