Stephanie Pollack, the Acting Federal Highway Administrator, announced on Friday that the U.S. Department of Transportation's (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded $1.56 million in grant funds to the City of Philadelphia for the first round of grants in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) Bridge Investment Program.
Pollack joined local and state officials in Philadelphia to announce one of the projects that had secured the IIJA funding, a $1.56 million grant for a planning and feasibility study to rehabilitate 18 bridges located over electrified rail lines primarily operated by Amtrak and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA).
“Bridges represent more than just their physical structures—they connect people and communities and make it easier to go about our daily lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “These grants will help communities across the country move forward to modernize their bridges and make it easier for people and goods to move quickly, reliably, and safely to their destinations.”
“Across the nation, the Biden-Harris Administration is making historic investments in thousands of bridges, which often serve as a community’s or region’s most important transportation link,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “These Bridge Planning Grants will be used to create a pipeline of future bridge construction projects to improve safety, add or improve multi-modal access, support economic competitiveness, and to provide resilient highway infrastructure that is better able to withstand the effects of climate change.”
Planning grants under the Bridge Investment Program are available for projects in the early phases of project development, where eligible activities include planning, feasibility analysis, and revenue forecasting. By providing planning grants in addition to construction grants, US DOT can aid in the development stage of a project – whether owned by a state, a city, or a local community – that could then later be eligible to apply for a construction grant through a range of competitive grant programs where bridge projects are eligible, including the Bridge Investment Program, MEGA, INFRA, and RURAL, based on criteria outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
“The Bridge Planning program will help create a pipeline of bridge projects that can potentially be awarded construction grants during the implementation of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These planning grants were all made at the requested funding amounts for bridges that are critical to working people living in communities across the country,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “Through the Bridge Investment Program, we are helping communities as they plan to restore and replace bridges that play vital roles for the people who use them in their daily lives. Planning for these activities is a critical step before construction can get underway.”
“The Bridge Investment Program grant from FHWA is a down payment on developing a strategy to repair and rehabilitate 18 bridges over electrified rails here in Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Fixing bridges is complicated work that takes time to do correctly. When you add in Amtrak trains or SEPTA regional rail underneath, that doubles the challenge. We’ll be working hand in hand with SEPTA and Amtrak to make sure that we can keep our communities connected on the road, and also to keep trains running and passengers safe.”
The IIJA provides a total of $20 million in 2022 funding for Bridge Planning grants. FHWA will reserve the remaining $1.6 million to award to projects identified under the upcoming Large Bridge Project grant awards that may be better suited for a planning grant than a construction grant.