Washington Update

222,000 U.S. Bridges Need Repair; Price Tag: $319B

WASHINGTON — More than 222,000 U.S. bridges need major repair work or should be replaced, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s (ARTBA) analysis of the recently released U.S. Department of Transportation 2023 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database released on Aug. 16. That figure represents 36% of all U.S. structures.

If placed end-to-end, these bridges would stretch more than 6,100 miles and take over 110 hours to cross at an average speed of 55-miles-per-hour, according to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who conducted the analysis. Based on average cost data submitted by states to USDOT, Black calculates it would cost more than $319 billion to make all needed repairs.

States currently have access to $10.6 billion from the 2021 federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) bridge formula funds that could help make needed repairs, with another $15.9 billion to be available in the next three years.

As the end of FY 2023 approaches on Sept. 30, states have committed $3.2 billion, or 30% of available bridge formula funds to 2,060 different bridge projects, with $7.4 billion still coming.

Eight states committed more than two-thirds of their available bridge formula funds: Idaho (100%), Georgia (100%), Alabama (97%), Arizona (88%), Indiana (81.5%), Florida (80%), Texas (78%), and Arkansas (68%).

“The good news is that states are beginning to employ these new resources to address long-overdue bridge needs,” ARTBA President & CEO Dave Bauer said. “The better news is that more improvements are on the way.”

“Most bridges are inspected every two years, so it takes time for repairs and rehabilitation efforts to show up in the annual federal data,” said Dr. Black. “What we do know now from other market indicators is that there are more bridge projects in the pipeline.”

Among other findings in ARTBA’s analysis:

  •  The number of bridges in poor condition declined by 560 compared to 2022. At the current pace, it would take 75 years to repair them all.
  •  Over the last five years, the share of bridges in fair condition continues to grow. In 2023, nearly half of all U.S. bridges (48.9%) were in fair condition.
  •  There are 31 states that have committed less than 33% of their available bridge formula funds as of June 30.
  •  States have four years to commit formula bridge program funds for specific projects, giving them additional flexibility to decide when to make investments.

The full findings, including state-by-state rankings, are available at: www.artbabridgereport.org.

USDOT Launches Project Delivery Center To Improve Efficiency, On-Time Completions

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched the Project Delivery Center of Excellence to help recipients of federal infrastructure funds deliver projects more efficiently and effectively, from concept to completion. The center will serve as a central resource for innovative practices and will bring project managers together to enable knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning.

“This USDOT Project Delivery Center of Excellence that we are launching is important because it is so important to deliver good projects well— meaning on time, on task, on budget,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “I know that in the months ahead the Center of Excellence at Volpe will only continue to grow and evolve in this purpose of better supporting project delivery staff, project sponsors, and everyone working on this both inside and outside the department.”

Since President Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, USDOT and the entire Biden-Harris Administration has hit the ground running to take advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure—and is already delivering major progress.

Among the initial plans announced on July 31 by the USDOT for the Project Delivery Center of Excellence:

  •  Simplifying the contracting process by providing newer, less experienced grant recipients with an off-the-shelf, high-quality model that they can use to ensure consistency and quality in design and construction contracts.
  •  Centralizing project delivery methods best practices and convening information exchanges.
  •  Providing a central repository and disseminate national best practices and case studies in successful, innovative project development, project delivery, and cost containment efforts.
  •  Working in partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers and Association of Consulting Engineering Companies to develop and distribute templates and model language for transportation construction contracts.

As part of the launch, Secretary Buttigieg joined University of Oxford Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, author of How Big Things Get Done and Megaprojects and Risk. Their conversation was the first in a new virtual leadership event series, Delivering the Benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

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