Contract Surety

Miles To Go Bridges



Despite building projects that moved 560 bridges out of the “in poor condition” category over the past year, states are having a hard time keeping up with bridges in need of attention–and leveraging the available federal funds. More dollars are still available than projects underway. Here’s the deal.


Good, Better, Best?

Despite the great news that “560 fewer bridges in poor condition than last year,” Julie Strupp, reporting for Construction Dive explains:


Thirty-six percent of all U.S. bridges, more than 222,000 spans, require major repair work or replacement, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association’s 2023 analysis….ARTBA estimates it would cost over $319 billion to make all needed repairs. By contrast, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act designates $40 billion in federal money over five years for bridge repairs and replacement.


Bridges newly rated in poor condition this year include I-345 over I-30 and US 75 Dart Rail in Dallas, the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge in Seattle and the Route I‐678 span over Flushing Bay Promenade in New York City. Over the past five years, the share of bridges in fair condition has continued to grow as the percentage of spans in poor or good condition declined. Thanks to increased federal investment, there is more money available to address these gaps — but many states are not taking full advantage….


Ideally, progress will pick up steam at the state level soon: “In 2023, nearly half of all U.S. bridges — 48.9% — were in fair condition, while bridges in poor condition make up 6.8% of the overall inventory.” While the gap between the estimated $319 billion needed to repair or replace bridges and the $40 billion allocated by the federal government is formidable, states can make a dent in the scale of the problem as they fully leverage the committed dollars. As it stands:


As the end of fiscal year 2023 approaches on Sept. 30, states have committed $3.2 billion — just 30% — of available bridge formula funds to 2,060 projects, with $7.4 billion still coming….Only eight states have committed more than two-thirds of their bridge formula funding to specific projects, while 31 states have committed less than a third of available money as of June 30.


States currently have access to $10.6 billion in IIJA Bridge Formula Program funds to help make needed repairs, and another $15.9 billion will be available in the next three years. These funds have helped support over 2,060 bridge projects in the construction and repair pipeline, according to the ARTBA report. Another new IIJA bridge program, the Bridge Investment Program, has an additional $12.5 billion for projects that will be awarded through 2026.    


While the Department of Transportation (DOT) is busily administering the lion’s share of the infrastructure funding, contractors eager for public builds will want to keep in mind that many other agencies are involved in awarding contracts for a diversity of infrastructure projects, including: the Federal Communications Commission which is overseeing broadband infrastructure; the Environmental Protection Agency, which is focused on water infrastructure; the Department of Energy, which is upgrading the electric grid, including EV charging stations; and, the Department of Commerce which is overseeing “regional innovation strategies and entrepreneurship.”


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Good To Know: 20 Years of Work

Construction Dive reports that a 2022 Congressional Research Service report found “it would take 20 years to eliminate the backlog of ailing bridges — but only if Congress maintained high funding levels.” One federal leader sums up strides in the face of long-delayed investment this way:We’re taking historically large steps, but the work of reversing probably 40, 50 years of degradation or underinvestment is going to be more than a couple of years’ work….The important thing is right now we are moving it in the right direction so that instead of getting worse, it’s getting better.”

Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a leading direct seller and writer of surety bonds and insurance products across the USA. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company and U.S. Treasury listed. Let’s connect today: LinkedIn.