By Bill Salisbury
Minnesota will receive $302 million to repair or replace its aging highway bridges over the next five years under an infrastructure program that President Biden detailed on Friday.
That money is the state’s share if the $26.5 billion that the U.S. Department of Transportation will allocate to the states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to fix bridges. It is part of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package that Biden signed into law in November. It is expected to improve around 15,000 bridges across the country.
Minnesota is in line to get the first $60.4 million of federal bridge funding this year. The state has 661 bridges that the Federal Highway Administration considers in poor condition.
Officials have not yet identified which bridges will be repaired or replaced with the new federal money. Minnesota Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said MnDOT hopes to spend some of the federal dollars to speed up some bridge projects this year, but she said the “real boost” in bridge construction and repairs will occur in the following years. Kelliher participated in a virtual press conference to tout the program with Democratic U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Gov. Tim Walz.
Before the federal infrastructure law was enacted, MnDOT asked Walz and the Legislature for permission to borrow $1 billion over five years to improve state and local bridges.