President Joe Biden recently announced a new initiative to fund repairs of the nation’s bridges, to the tune of $26.5 billion. A lot of the public focus on this has been on bridges in big cities, so AgNet Media National Correspondent Sabrina Halvorson talked to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to find out how this will help people outside of the big cities.
“So one really important quality of this bridge program is it’s not only about the biggest bridges in the biggest cities. But, we believe this funding will make it possible to repair as many as 15,000 bridges around the country, so many of which are in rural areas. You know, they may not get as much attention as some of those biggest bridges but, as drivers in rural communities know well, when you have a bridge that’s out of service, often because of a safety issue or because it’s in poor condition, that can mean having to go sometimes a half an hour or more out of your way to the next place where you can cross,” Buttigieg said. “This is an issue not just for people getting where they need to be, getting to work, getting to school, but it’s certainly important for agricultural goods, in general, getting to market.”
“And,” he continued, “in a time when we continue to have a lot of pressure on our supply chains, it’s certainly the right time to be investing in the quality of our bridges. We have set aside specifically funding that is dedicated to so-called off-system bridges, the ones that don’t routinely have federal support. And, we’re going to work with local communities, including fully funding then, where historically there had to be a local match, because we know sometimes that local match is a barrier to getting those bridges and roads improved in rural areas.”
The Federal Highway Administration’s 2021 report on bridge condition states there are more than 43,000 highway bridges around the nation in poor condition. Nearly 1500 are in California. California is getting $4.2 billion dollars in funding. Secretary Buttigieg said the state will determine which projects get the funding.
Listen to the full interview here.
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.