PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some of the funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will begin to flow into the Philadelphia region next week. It will go to repair the region’s roads, bridges, and mass transit.
“They definitely need to be restored and repaired,” Philadelphia resident Meg Lile said. “It keeps the flavor of the city as beautiful as it is.”READ MORE: Special Education Teacher Could Lose Job After Reportedly Duct Taping Student's Mouth In Chester County
The “they” Lile is referring to are Philadelphia’s bridges, but some of that beauty is becoming harder to notice.
“Repair them,” Lile said. “We need them, and we need them 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 if it’s not repaired soon, it will have to close to bikers and runners as well.
“Philadelphia has a great deal of pride in being an old city with deep heritage and great history,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “That also means there’s a lot of maintenance needs.”
Buttigieg was in Philadelphia Friday touting the $1 trillion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The bill was signed by President Joe Biden last year.
“Administration after administration, president after president, has tried to get infrastructure done, President Biden finally made it happen,” Buttigieg said. “That was with bipartisan support with leadership like the delegation that was with us today and people around the country that just believe and know it’s just time to have better roads and bridges around the United States. Big part of that is coming to Pennsylvania because a big need for that is in Pennsylvania.”READ MORE: Gov. Phil Murphy Orders Increased Law Enforcement Presence At New Jersey Schools Following Tragic Texas School Shooting
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports there are thousands of bridges across the region that are deemed unsafe. Under a new funding formula, the federal government is paying for 100% of the cost of construction.
Billions of dollars will be paid out to the region in each of the next five years, beginning this year.
“This is the most that the federal government has committed to fix and repair and enhance bridges since the interstate highway system itself was created under President Eisenhower,” Buttigieg said.
Mass transit is also getting a boost in federal aid. SEPTA is getting an additional $120 million to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“SEPTA service is only essential when it is accessible by all,” SEPTA CEO and GM Leslie Richard said.
Sen. Pat Toomey was one of a few in the region’s delegation to vote against the bill. His office couldn’t be reached Friday, but the Republican said in a statement in August when the bill passed Congress that it was “too expensive, too expansive and too unpaid for.”
Locally, the spending was praised.MORE NEWS: Baby Formula Shipment On Way To Nestle Facility Outside Allentown
“An infrastructure investment on this scale has been talked about for so long, but it wasn’t until now that the promise has been actually delivered,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.