Back in November, 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden as part of his proposed economic agenda. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure package includes massive funding for America’s roads, railroads, and bridges.
The funding provides $110 billion for roads and bridges construction and repair, as well as $66 billion for railroads that includes upgrades and maintenance of the passenger rail system and for freight rail safety.
No one in the industry who works on or inspects America’s bridges would disagree that this is money that is much needed and has the potential to be well spent.
And a more recent event underscored this need in an ironic way.
Serendipitous Timing and a Pressing Issue
No one likes to be under scrutiny but there are events that cause the spotlight of the media and, in some cases, government attention to be focused on bridge inspectors.
The apparently overlooked damage on the Hernando de Soto Bridge over the Mississippi last spring, for example. One chief inspector was dismissed, and an entire state department was put on notice in the aftermath of an embarrassing oversight that was, fortunately, soon corrected.
However, an incident occurred in January 2022 that both underscored the need for infrastructure funding, but also the very real potential for tragic disaster among America’s aging bridges.
On January 28, 2022, President Biden was scheduled to speak in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to promote his one trillion-plus dollar infrastructure bill. In an almost eerie coincidence, a 50-year old bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh the same day. The bridge had been rated as poor on a recent inspection report, according to state officials.
According to a news story the next day,
“Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Highway Administration have been combing through rubble from the collapse early Friday of the Forbes Avenue Bridge, looking for what caused it.
City officials said the most recent inspection report of the city-owned steel bridge from September wasn’t available Friday. But a September 2019 inspection showed the bridge’s deck and superstructure were in what inspectors said was poor condition.
Infrastructure spending advocates noted there are thousands of bridges across the country with the same poor designation but few instances of collapse. Many said funding has not kept up with the need for repairs and replacements.”
Accordingly, transportation officials and engineering experts also cautioned that the collapse of the Forbes Avenue Bridge doesn’t necessarily signal imminent danger for the thousands of other U.S. bridges with the same “poor” designation.
Looking Ahead to a Potential Surge in Bridge, Highway, and Rail Infrastructure Work
For decades, various state DOTs and other agencies, as well as contractors and engineers in the highway industry, have been advocating for more funding to be made available. And, for decades, promises have been made and occasional efforts launched, but the vast majority of infrastructure repairs and replacement work has continued to go undone.
So, what does this mean for DOTs, engineering firms, and contractors?
It will mean more funding available to state transportation agencies to funnel into various infrastructure needs. States like Nevada, for example, plan to repair and rebuild their roads and bridges with a focus on safety for all users. In Nevada, there are 28 bridges and over 1,090 miles of highway in poor condition.
And in Kentucky, a recent study stated that,
“The level of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet highway investment is likely to increase further as a result of the five-year federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law in November 2021, which will provide $5.1 billion for road, highway and bridge investment in Kentucky over the next five years, including a 35 percent funding increase in FY 2022, resulting in approximately an additional $300 million annually in road, highway and bridge funding in Kentucky.”
However, the funds will be dispersed over the next five years based on a somewhat complex formula that takes into account population, geography, and infrastructure size, among other factors.
As one investigative news report noted, three states will see the lion’s share of available funds,
- California is getting $44.5 billion, the most of any state. More than half of that is dedicated to highway programs and bridges, so both classic infrastructure.
- Texas comes in at $35.4 billion. but Texas spending on highway programs is just shy of $27 billion.
- New York is the next big spender at $26.9 billion, so the entire state gets around the same as what Texas is spending on highways but the state will actually have a bigger spend on their public transportation at $9.8 billion.
Under Bridge Platforms is Your Premier Source for Bridge Inspection Access
With the anticipated influx of bridge and highway rebuilding and repair funding, and the large increase in available projects that will result, firms will need to gear up. And having a reliable partner to provide superior under bridge access is essential.
Which is why, at Under Bridge Platforms, we specialize in under bridge access equipment.
The experts at Under Bridge Platforms are proud to serve all of the Western States, including California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming, by providing the best selection of high quality under bridge access equipment.
Our large and expanding inventory of under bridge access platforms includes state-of-the-art self-drive access platforms such as the versatile Aspen Aerials A-30 Bridge Inspection Unit and the Truck-Mounted Hydra Platform HPT43.
As a professional firm you can rely on us to guide you through the process of buying or renting the right under bridge inspection vehicle and equipment. No matter the size or type of project, the team at Under Bridge Platforms is here to help you make the proper selection.
We take a great deal of pride in being the only company in our industry based in California that offers total under bridge access. Because we believe in providing only quality customer service, we have managed to build long-lasting relationships with our esteemed customers.
And we intend to keep it that way.