PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will begin flowing to the Philadelphia area next week. It will go to the repair of roads, bridges and public transport in the area.
“They definitely need to be restored and repaired,” said Philadelphia resident Meg Leal. “It keeps the flavor of the city as beautiful as it is.”
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The “they” are referring to the bridges of lil Philadelphia, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to notice some of the beauty in them.
“Repair them,” said Lyle. “We need them, and we need them safe.”
Eighty bridges in Philadelphia are considered unsafe, including the MLK Bridge that crosses the Schuylkill River.
The underside of the MLK Bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since the start of the pandemic and officials say it will also have to be visited by bikers and runners if it is not repaired soon.
“Philadelphia is very proud to be an old city with a deep heritage and great history,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “It also means a lot of maintenance is needed.”
Buttigieg was speaking Friday of $1 trillion in bipartisan infrastructure legislation in Philadelphia. The bill was signed by President Joe Biden last year.
“Administration after administration, president after president has tried to get the infrastructure done, President Biden finally did it,” Buttigieg said. “He was accompanied by bipartisan support with leadership like the delegation that is with us today and people across the country who just believe and know that it is time for better roads and bridges around the United States. A big part of it is Pennsylvania. Coming in because there’s a huge need for it in Pennsylvania.”
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The US Department of Transportation reports that there are thousands of bridges across the region that are considered unsafe. Under a new funding formula, the federal government is paying 100% of the cost of construction.
Billions of dollars will be paid out to the sector over the next five years, starting this year.
“This is the most that the federal government has committed to fixing and repairing and enhancing bridges since the Interstate Highway System was created under President Eisenhower himself,” Buttigieg said.
Mass transit is also getting a boost in federal aid. SEPTA is receiving an additional $120 million to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Septa service is only needed if it is accessible to all,” said Leslie Richard, SEPTA CEO and GM.
Sen. Pat Tommy was one of the delegation from the region who voted against the bill. His office could not be reached Friday, but Republicans said in a statement in August when the bill was passed to Congress that it was “too expensive, too detailed and too unpaid.”
At the local level, the spending was praised.
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“An infrastructure investment of this scale has been talked about for so long, but it was not until now that the promise has really been fulfilled,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.