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Idaho to get $225 million to repair state's bridges

The federal money coming to Idaho will be used to fix 286 Gem State bridges rated in poor condition, and improve almost 3,000 more listed in fair condition.

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is set to receive $225 million in federal money to repair and improve highway bridges across the state.

The investment comes as part of the  U.S. Department of Transportation's Bridge Formula Program, which is sending $26.5 billion to states in transportation funding.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is thrilled to launch this program to fix thousands of bridges across the country – the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "Modernizing America's bridges will help improve safety, support economic growth and make people's lives better in every part of the country – in rural, suburban, city, and tribal communities."  

The money coming to Idaho will be used to fix 286 Gem State bridges rated in poor condition, and improve or preserve almost 3,000 more listed in fair condition.

Nationwide, there are an estimated 15,000 bridges in need of repair that will be restored with the federal money. Funds will also go toward tribal transportation facility bridges and "off-system" bridges owned by towns, cities or counties that are not part of the highway system.

According to Idaho Transportation Department spokeswoman Aubri Spence, ITD conducts inspections of all bridges in the state that are 20 feet or longer. Idaho's portion of the federal investment will be broken down over five years, with about $45 million coming to the state the firsy year.

More than $38 million of that will go to ITD, while the remaining $6.7 million will be put towards locally-owned bridges, she said. 

It is unclear when the state will see that money - Biden signed the legislation into law in November, but it is still the subject of dispute in Congress.

"This record amount of funding, made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allow states and tribal governments to fix the bridges most in need of repair," Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack said. "It will also modernize bridges to withstand the effects of climate change and to make them safer for all users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Every state has bridges in poor condition and in need of repair, including bridges with weight restrictions that may force lengthy detours for travelers, school buses, first responders or trucks carrying freight."

Transportation funding - including money for bridge repair - has been a major topic in Idaho for years as the state's population continues to grow and more drivers take to the roads.

In his State of the State address earlier this month, Gov. Brad Little proposed putting $1.6 billion towards transportation, including a $200 million one-time infusion to repair local bridges.

Spence said ITD does not anticipate that the federal investment will change the amount Little is asking the Legislature to approve.

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