Planning grant is the program’s first competitive federal funding award
VANCOUVER – The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration announced this week that the bi-state Interstate Bridge Replacement program has been awarded a $1 million Bridge Investment Program Planning Grant. Funds from this first federal grant awarded to the IBR program will be used to carry out a planned ground-improvement study in the program area on Hayden Island. This study will mitigate against the effects of liquefaction in the event of an earthquake and support accelerated development and risk reduction for the program.
The Oregon Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Transportation submitted a joint application for the $1 million BIP Planning Grant request, with ODOT leading the process. BIP is a new competitive discretionary program created under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, focused on building, improving, or replacing bridges across the country. The two transportation agencies also applied for a $750 million FHWA BIP Construction Grant for the IBR program in August. BIP Construction Grant awards have not yet been announced.
“Addressing the issues associated with the existing Interstate Bridge is critical to the vitality of our transportation system and is a high priority for both Oregon and Washington,” said ODOT Director Kris Strickler. “Federal support for the IBR program demonstrates continued momentum for this critical effort to ensure a seismically-resilient corridor, while significantly improving safety, mobility, reliability and accessibility for the traveling public and the movement of freight.”
The IBR program plans to pursue additional federal grant opportunities beginning in 2023. These include the new USDOT Mega Program (known statutorily as the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program), which was also created through IIJA to support large, complex projects that are likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits. The IBR program also intends to submit for the Federal Transit Administration Capital Investment Grant Program, which may be used for fixed guideway capital transit improvements, including commuter rail, light rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit investments.
“We appreciate the support of the congressional delegations in both states in recognizing the need for significant infrastructure investments for projects such as the critical effort to replace the aging Interstate Bridge,” said WSDOT Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar. “As a bi-state, multimodal project spanning a major body of water on a nationally significant economic corridor, we believe there are very few other projects that fit the intent of these federal infrastructure investment opportunities as well as the Interstate Bridge Replacement program.”
“A program of this size generally does not get done without significant federal dollars,” said Greg Johnson, IBR program administrator. “We have not seen this level of federal infrastructure funding available since the 1990s, which includes new grant programs available for bridges and economically significant projects that haven’t existed previously. This is a unique window of opportunity to secure an infusion of federal dollars into our regional economy to support this critical infrastructure investment that would otherwise go elsewhere in the United States.”
Read the FHWA news release issued October 12, 2022: Biden-Harris Administration Announces Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s First Bridge Investment Program Grants
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