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Iowa bridges getting boost from infrastructure bill

The state is set to receive $86 million per year for the next five years.

DES MOINES, Iowa — On Jan. 28, 10 people were injured in Pittsburgh after a bridge collapsed just hours before President Biden visited the city to discuss his infrastructure plan, including funding for bridge repairs nationwide.

Here in Iowa, the Hawkeye State leads the nation in bridges that are considered "structurally deficient," according to a report from the Iowa Department of Transportation. But that label does not necessarily mean a bridge is unsafe.

"That just means that there are conditions there of deterioration that may need some attention in the near future. So it has nothing to do with the safety of the structure," said Scott Neubauer, a bridge maintenance and inspection engineer with the Iowa DOT.

According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, two of the most-used structurally deficient bridges in Iowa are in Polk County. The 2nd Avenue bridge over Birdland Drive and the SW 9th St bridge over the Raccoon River each get more than 17,000 drivers crossing them a day. 

However, most of the other bridges in this category do not get nearly that much use: half of them see less than 35 cars a day.

"Those bridges can handle that for a very long, extended period of time. There's no imminent rush to replace something like that, if it's adequate to handle the traffic that it needs to see," Neubauer said.

RELATED: Pittsburgh bridge collapses hours before Biden visit to city

RELATED: Yes, 45,000 bridges in the US are in poor condition

Repair services will be getting a boost soon, however. The DOT will be receiving federal funding from the infrastructure bill specifically to repair Iowa bridges.

"We're getting approximately $86 million a year for the next five years to apply to bridges in the state, and a high percentage of that money will probably go to our local agencies, since they have the higher number of poor bridges in the state," Neubauer added.

There is currently no timeline on when that funding will be made available.

Under federal guidelines, bridges must be examined at least every two years. If a safety hazard is identified, the bridge will be closed immediately.

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Watch: Gov. Reynolds announces $38 million from American Rescue Plan will go to water projects 

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