W.Va. to receive more than $500 million for bridge repair

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W.Va. to receive more than $500 million for bridge repair
The I-64 Bridge at Charleston is one of countless bridges in the West Virginia to be maintained. (Photo courtesy Rick Burgess)

West Virginia will receive $548,083,740 over the next five years to replace, rehabilitate, preserve and build bridges as part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Gov. Jim Justice has announced.

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The record funding will provide the state an essential boost to maintain its approximately 7,000 bridges, almost 150 of which are owned by municipalities or are otherwise not owned by the W.Va. Department of Transportation.

Justice said the state continues to benefit enormously from its ability to use funds provided through the Biden administration.

“More and more good stuff continues to come,” Gov. Justice said. “How’d this happen? It’s because the Department of Transportation and Secretary Jimmy Wristen are pushing the envelope and working in every way they possibly can.

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"This is just more good stuff to make life better for West Virginians every day."

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law in November 2021, includes about $550 billion in new spending for infrastructure projects all over the United States.

West Virginia’s portion of funding for the bridge program works out to about $110 million a year for the next five years, in addition to $167 million the state spends each year on bridge projects.

The state intends to increase bridge funding in 2024 to $217 million, meaning between regular funding and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act bridge program funding, the state will have about $227 million a year available just for bridge projects.

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Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston said Biden's program is among those he can support enthusiastically.

“Of all the new programs included in the IIJA, this is the one that I can most get behind,” Wriston said.

“This gives West Virginia a robust bridge program that will have an impact for decades. Furthermore, it will allow us to assist municipalities with their non-state-owned bridges without requiring a match. Thank you, Gov. Justice, for your continued leadership to make sure our infrastructure is properly maintained statewide.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act bridge program allows 100 percent federal funding for certain off-system bridges, typically requiring a 20 percent local match.

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Even for municipal bridges that would still require matching funds, the act allows the division room to work with municipalities to structure the matching money, Wriston said.

A unique provision of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding allows the state to spend at least 15 percent of the total allocation on off-system bridges, which may include city bridges or other spans not owned by the state.

Stephanie Pollack, the acting administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, thanked the Biden administration for the funding through his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“The Federal Highway Administration is pleased to make this record amount of funding available to the West Virginia Department of Transportation to upgrade its aging bridge infrastructure and improve the safety and condition of bridges across the state,” Pollack said.

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“This funding, made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will bring down the cost of shipping and speed up the delivery of goods to market while ensuring that West Virginia’s bridges are safer for all users, including motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, and that local residents and businesses can get where they need to go safely and reliably for years to come.”

The state Department of Transportation is looking at 75 municipal bridge projects eligible for 100 percent funding through the federal bridge program. The state intends to work with municipalities to find matching funds for 39 more, according to Wriston's office.

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