A portion of the $4.2 billion investment ($849.4M) that California is receiving from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) represents more than double the amount of any other state. These funds will be used to improve the nearly 1,500 bridges rated to be in
(Photo courtesy of Caltrans.)
As part of the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, California is receiving approximately $4.2 billion over five years to address the repair and replacement of highway bridges. This translates into $849.4 million in initial funding for the five-year bridge repair program.
The bridge formula program represents the largest federal investment ever made to repair and upgrade bridges — dedicating $26.5 billion to states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and $825 million for Tribal transportation facilities.
The $849.4 million that California is receiving represents more than double the amount of any other state. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and local transportation agencies in the state will target the funds to improve the nearly 1,500 bridges rated to be in "poor" condition in the state.
The AGC of California is pleased that aging infrastructure in the Golden State will be addressed.
"AGC would like to applaud the recent CTC action allocating SB-1 and IIJA funding to infrastructure projects throughout our state," Peter Tateishi, chief executive officer of AGC of California, told Construction Equipment Guide. "California is in a much stronger position with these investments and the construction industry stands ready to help deliver these important projects."
Gov. Gavin Newsom added, "With more than 26,000 bridges in California — including some of the busiest and most iconic in the nation — we thank the Biden-Harris Administration for this historic investment to make our bridges more resilient and create thousands of good-paying, middle class jobs for Californians."
Caltrans has established teams working on distributing the money, according to Will Arnold, media relations manager of Caltrans HQ.
"The funding will help address existing needs in California,"Arnold said. "The degree of overall impact will vary depending on the specific program objectives and funding made available for each area. The funding appears to be largely consistent from year to year for the next five years."
Arnold noted that the funding can be used for any eligible bridge project, which includes those to help redress the infrastructure deficit to replace aging structures.
"We have advanced repairs and upgrades to California's transportation system, including to the state's bridges," said Arnold. "With the funding from SB 1, the department repairs an average of 221 bridges annually— an 85 percent increase compared to pre-SB 1 levels. By 2027, Caltrans will have repaired at least 500 more bridges than it would have without SB 1 funding."
While California has fewer roads (lane miles) compared to states such as Texas, it has significantly more vehicles travelling on them. Asked if this applies to bridges, Arnold replied, "Yes. California has the most heavily-used highway system in the United States by a significant margin. The wear and tear on our highways and bridges is a function of this heavy usage. Highway vehicles, especially trucks, wear out highways and bridges over time.
"California roadways also serve two of the world's busiest ports, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which account for 40 percent of all sea imports to the United States generate a significant number of truck trips as a result."
The federal funding covers bridges owned by other jurisdictions.
"The bridge formula program includes dedicated funding for Tribal transportation facility bridges and ‘off-system' bridges owned by a county, city or other local agency," said Arnold. "The law also includes an incentive for states to direct these funds to off-system bridges. While states normally must match federal funding with up to 20 percent state or local funding, the guidance issued by the FHWA indicates that federal funds can be used for 100 percent of the cost of repairing or rehabilitating locally owned off-system bridges. Additionally, the infrastructure law requires 15 percent of the bridge funds be spent on rural bridges on low volume roads."
Some of the larger projects that will be funded through the investments include:
- Approximately $266.7 million for a project on Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50 near West Sacramento in Yolo County that will rehabilitate the roadway by placing a Continuous Reinforced Concrete Pavement (CRCP) overlay, rehabilitate ramps and bridge decks and upgrade median barriers to current standards, among other improvements. The $266.7 million allocation includes more than $244 million in federal IIJA funding;
- A total of $75.8M to rehabilitate roadway by replacing pavement with Plain Jointed Concrete Pavement and asphalt concrete in and near Hercules, Rodeo, and Crocket from Route 4 to the Carquinez Bridge. The $75.8M allocation includes more than $67.1M in federal IIJA funding.
- $37.8M to replace Cordilleras Creek Bridge on Route 101 in Redwood City. This project includes $33.5M in IIJA funding.
- $36.2 million for a project on State Route 70 near Paradise in Butte County that will restore and repair damaged roadway by raising the vertical alignment approximately 5 ft., protect the embankment against future flooding by constructing a soldier pile retaining wall, replace Bear Creek Bridge and construct concrete barriers.
- $34.5 million ($30.5 million in federal IIJA funding) to replace the San Jose Creek Bridge on State Route 217 near Goleta in Santa Barbara County to meet current standards and provide shoulders for disabled vehicles, maintenance workers, pedestrians, and bicycles.
- Approximately $32M toward roadway improvements and the construction of retaining walls along Route 299 near Willow Creek from East Fork Bridge to east of Cedar Creek Road in Humboldt County. The $32 million allocation includes more than $28 million in federal IIJA funding.
- $25 million including more than $22 million in federal IIJA funding to replace the San Jose Creek Bridge on US 101 in Goleta near State Route 217 in Santa Barbara County.
- Approximately $22.4M toward improvements on Route 36 at Hely Creek Bridge, Little Larabee Creek Bridge and Butte Creek Bridge near Bridgeville in Humboldt County. The $22.4 million allocation includes more than $19.9 million in federal IIJA funding.
- Roadway Rehabilitation Project on State Route 41 in Madera County: $21.5 million allocated to project that will rehabilitate roadway by resurfacing pavement, widening shoulders and bridge, and reconstructing culverts near Fresno, from 0.1 miles north of Avenue 15 to 0.1 miles south of State Route 145. The $21.5 million allocation includes over $19 million in federal IIJA funding.
A major effort was undertaken to secure the funding.
"Caltrans and its local partners established consensus principles for California that were shared with Congress during the legislative process," said Arnold, "which the department believes were effective in influencing the final Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."
Caltrans has a priority list for bridges that require attention.
"We work with the California Transportation Commission to fund bridge projects on the state highway system and to fully use all federal transportation funding that becomes available," said Arnold. "Caltrans is evaluating how we can best put these funds to use. The Caltrans Project Book [projectbook.dot.ca.gov] is a good indication of how the state prioritizes repairs on state highway bridges based on a bridge's rating and condition."
Having the money to fund the projects is one thing, but do the general contractors and subcontractors have the resources to take on additional projects?
"Caltrans is working with its construction partners and the department believes that they will be able to support this level of funding," Arnold said. "Caltrans partners with the construction industry to help grow its workforce. Growing small business firms is also a priority for Caltrans. This historic investment will help fix the state's bridges that need it most, make them more resilient and safer for all users, and keep our economy moving." CEG
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