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FHWA Announces $300M Investment in Bridge Projects Across the United States, $14M to Fund the US-59 San Antonio River Bridge Project in Texas

by: Jessica Hoover
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently revealed plans to allocate nearly $300 million for nine small- and medium-sized bridge projects in both urban and rural areas. The grants, awarded in eight states and the District of Columbia, are part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's Bridge Investment Program. This program aims to rebuild, repair, and replace bridges of all sizes, with a total investment of $12.5 billion over five years.

The Bridge Investment Program has already made significant strides in the past fiscal year, with $2.4 billion being invested in 2022. This program is a crucial component of the government's efforts to revamp the nation's bridges and represents the largest dedicated investment in bridge infrastructure since the construction of the Interstate Highway System.

One of the projects set to benefit from this funding is the replacement of the U.S. Highway 59 bridge over the San Antonio River, just east of Goliad, Texas. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will receive $14 million from the Bridge Investment Program for this project. The bridge is situated within close proximity to three key water ports — the Port of Corpus Christi, Calhoun Port Authority, and Port of Victoria — as well as being within 150 miles of Port Laredo, the largest inland port along the U.S./Mexico border.

The existing bridge, which is 93 years old, is currently rated as scour-critical and is at risk of deteriorating further. The cost of maintenance has become a burden due to flood events and aging bridge components. The current bridge's narrow width poses a challenge for accommodating the significant number of wide-load vehicles that cross it daily, with over 4,200 vehicles — including more than 1,300 trucks — passing over the bridge each day. Project sponsors estimate that without this investment, the bridge would require closure for at least nine months, leading to a nearly 50-mile detour for traffic.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is investing in this bridge replacement project because it will benefit commuters and businesses in Goliad County and south Texas by enhancing mobility for all,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “Over the next five years, the Bridge Investment Program will work to repair, replace, and rehabilitate structures that allow businesses to move their goods to market while helping people get to jobs, schools, doctors, and other vital destinations. This project is an investment in both the United States’ economic growth and in the safety and long-term resilience of the communities that make this country great.”

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The US-59 San Antonio River Bridge project involves widening the bridge deck from 33 feet to 82 feet to create two lanes, raising the bridge deck outside of the 100-year floodplain zone, updating the existing piers to modern-day scour standards, and increasing pier spacing. Currently, inadequate shoulder space and heavy truck traffic make crossing the bridge dangerous for bicyclists and pedestrians due to the lack of sufficient passing distance. The project aims to address this issue by providing an 11-foot-wide outside shoulder to separate bicycle and pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic, as well as installing rumble strips to alert inattentive drivers of lane departures.

In addition to the anticipated safety benefits for pedestrians and bicyclists, the project is expected to generate millions of dollars in savings through reduced travel time, improve the safety of the traveling public, minimize the need for reroutes during bridge repair closures, and enhance the bridge's resilience to extreme weather events.

TxDOT has developed a construction plan that involves building the new bridge in phases, allowing one lane in each direction to remain open during the construction period. The project is estimated to take approximately two years to complete, providing a safer and more efficient bridge crossing for the residents and businesses in the region.

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