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White House building more bridges as most recent investment tour concludes

Nine projects totaling nearly $300 million will be unveiled Thursday

Vice President Kamala Harris tours an assembly plant for New Flyer electric buses on Feb. 9 in St. Cloud, Minn., where she talked about the administration’s investment in clean energy projects.
Vice President Kamala Harris tours an assembly plant for New Flyer electric buses on Feb. 9 in St. Cloud, Minn., where she talked about the administration’s investment in clean energy projects. (Glen Stubbe/Star Tribune/Getty Images file photo)

Vice President Kamala Harris headlined the final day of the White House’s three-week “Investing in America” tour touting infrastructure and technology projects across the country with a visit to a span of the 14th Street bridge in Washington, D.C.

“We think about things like the Golden Gate Bridge,” Harris said, but bridges like the span of the 14th Street bridge are “just as important.”

The funding announcement and others made over the course of the White House tour stemmed from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law, which will upgrade 15,000 bridges across the nation. The spending represents “the largest bridge investment since the creation of the highway system,” a senior administration official said previewing Thursday’s funding round.

The northbound Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge is slated to receive $72 million for rehabilitation as part of the nearly $300 million being announced across the country on Thursday. The projects being announced Thursday were limited to $100 million per project.

“When bridges have to close for repairs — or worse, begin to fail — it can cut off access to an entire community, adding hours to commutes, costing money for local businesses, and delaying first responders from getting to an emergency,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “The grant awards we’re announcing today are helping communities of all sizes modernize their bridges so that school buses, delivery trucks, ambulances, and commuters can get where they need to go quickly and safely.”

It’s just the latest batch of bridge repair and replacement funding from the Biden administration, with perhaps the most notable being the more than $1.6 billion in funding to address the Brent Spence Bridge between southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. That project saw President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., come together in January in Covington, on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., should have cause to be pleased with Thursday’s news. One of the nine smaller projects being announced by the Federal Highway Administration is for the rehabilitation of the Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge, which carries the Berkshire Connector of the New York State Thruway across the Hudson River.

Buttigieg visited upstate New York to highlight that award, which is being made to the Thruway Authority for a toll road, which a senior administration official said Congress specifically allowed as part of the program in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

Also on the list is $15.1 million to replace six bridges on the John Nolen Drive artery leading into Madison, Wis., a project that’s been a long-standing local priority. A senior administration official said the bridges have faced recurring issues with structural integrity.

“They will finally be replaced by an improved bridge system that will reduce the need for emergency maintenance closures and create a separate multiuse path to make the bridge safer for pedestrians and cyclists along the popular bike trail that sees up to 4,500 cyclists every day,” the official said.

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