PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A portion of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding will begin flowing to the Philadelphia area next week. It will be used to repair roads, bridges and public transport in the region.
“They absolutely need to be restored and repaired,” said Philadelphia resident Meg Lile. “It keeps the flavor of the city as beautiful as it is.”
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The “they” Lile refers to are the bridges of Philadelphia, but some of that beauty is getting harder and harder to notice.
“Fix them,” Lile said. “We need them, and we need them to be safe.”
Eighty of Philadelphia’s bridges, including the MLK Bridge crossing the Schuylkill River, have been deemed unsafe.
The underside of the MLK Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since the start of the pandemic and officials say that if it isn’t repaired soon, it will also have to be closed to cyclists and runners.
“Philadelphia takes great pride in being an old city with a deep heritage and a great history,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “It also means there are a lot of maintenance needs.”
Buttigieg was in Philadelphia on Friday to tout the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure act. The bill was signed by President Joe Biden last year.
“Administration after administration, president after president, tried to put the infrastructure in place, President Biden finally got it right,” Buttigieg said. “It was with bipartisan support with leaders like the delegation that was with us today and people across the country who believe and know that it’s just time for better roads and bridges around the United States. A lot of it comes to Pennsylvania because there is a great need for it in Pennsylvania.
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The US Department of Transportation reports that there are thousands of bridges in the region that are deemed unsafe. Under a new funding formula, the federal government pays 100% of the construction cost.
Billions of dollars will flow to the region in each of the next five years, starting this year.
“This is the most the federal government has committed to repairing, repairing and improving bridges since the creation of the freeway system itself under President Eisenhower,” Buttigieg said.
Public transit is also benefiting from an increase in federal assistance. SEPTA receives an additional $120 million to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The SEPTA service is only essential when it is available to everyone,” said SEPTA CEO and Managing Director Leslie Richard.
Senator Pat Toomey was one of the few members of the region’s delegation to vote against the bill. His office could not be reached on Friday, but the Republican said in a statement in August when the bill passed Congress that it was “too expensive, too expensive and too unpaid.”
Locally, the expenses were welcomed.
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“An infrastructure investment of this magnitude has been discussed for so long, but only now has the promise been truly delivered,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.