Eighteen states were awarded $225 million in federal grants to replace and upgrade bridges in rural areas, which could help speed truck freight.
The money was distributed through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Competitive Highway Bridge Program (CHBP) grant program, which restricts funding to states with population densities of less than 100 people per square-mile.
“The projects funded under the program will serve as models for similar bridge improvement projects throughout the nation,” commented Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Administrator Nicole Nason on August 29. “They are examples of how to achieve time and cost savings through innovation.”
The funds must be used for highway bridge replacement or rehabilitation projects that leverage “bundling” efficiencies that combine at least two highway bridge projects into a single contract, according to DOT. “Bundling offers cost and time savings, which are beneficial to reducing the transportation project backlog,” DOT stated. “It allows the opportunity to address many projects facing similar needs using innovative replacement and rehabilitation strategies in a cost-effective manner.”
Among the 20 projects awarded grants, $8.5 million will be used to replace seven bridges in northeastern Nebraska. “The project will benefit the region’s truck traffic, farming and recreation economic activities and maintain access to life services for residents,” DOT noted.
The largest award, $33.4 million, will be used to renovate up to 77 bridges in Iowa using “accelerated bridge construction” technology to improve farm-to-market routes across the state.
Congress funded the CHBP grant program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, with 25 states eligible to apply to FHWA for funding. It will also “assess the extent to which the project incorporates innovations in transportation funding and finance through both traditional and innovative means, including by using private sector funding or financing and recycled revenue from the competitive sale or lease of publicly owned or operated assets.”