Florida is set to receive a $245 million dollar investment for bridge repair and maintenance as part of the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law but still lags behind other highly populated states in federal funding allocations, continuing a trend found in a recent economic analysis.
Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), states are appropriated funding through a statutory formula that allocates what the federal government finds is sufficient to repair bridges across states that are considered to be in poor condition. In other words, a need-based system. A bridge can be considered to be in poor condition when the Department of Transportation Bridge Inventory database finds that it is not structurally sound and at risk of collapse or damage in the near future.
Florida is home to 408 bridges that were given the poor condition label, all of which are earmarked for federal funding to repair and maintain. Receiving $245 million, that puts the state at receiving just over $600 thousand per bridge.
However, when compared with other high population states, it becomes evident that Florida is receiving much less on a per-bridge basis than California, New York, and Texas.
Texas, which has 818 compromised bridges, is receiving $537.1 million from the White House, placing the per-bridge total at $656 thousand. New York has 1,702 bridges that require work and will receive $1.9 billion for the efforts, which amounts to $1.1 million per bridge. California, the state that is getting the highest total sum from the government at a staggering $4.2 billion, has 1,536 bridges in need of maintenance and repair, amounting to $2.7 million per bridge.
|Bridges To Repair
When the data is interpolated, it becomes clear that Florida is receiving fewer federal dollars than similar states in terms of population and economic output, but the trend is nothing new. Florida TaxWatch, an independent, bipartisan tax watchdog group found that the state is receiving an unfair share of Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that was signed into action on Nov 15, 2021.
With the signing, Florida is expected to receive $19.1 billion for public investment in transportation networks like highways, broadband, and public service projects. Given Florida’s status as the third-largest state, home to nearly 22 million residents, Floridians comprise nearly 7 percent of the national population though will receive just 4.48 percent of the federal aid in the IIJA signing, which is the lowest among all 50 states on a per capita basis, or $887 per person.
“This isn’t a new issue, as Florida has historically been a donor state for federal aid, with our hard-earned tax dollars going to subsidize programs across the country,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “And while inequitable grant distribution formulas have proven hard to change, as more are developed for the infrastructure bill, our Congressional delegation should work to improve Florida’s return, while also aggressively pursuing grant opportunities created by the legislation.”
Florida TaxWatch also noted that Florida is being penalized for proper bridge maintenance. The IIJA’s distribution formula for bridge replacement and repair is based on the number of bridges in the state ranked “fair” or “poor” by the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inspection Standards. This applies to more than half of the country’s bridges, but just over one-third of the bridges in Florida. Consequentially, the state is slated to receive $245 million of the available $26 billion, or less than one percent.