WASHINGTON – Bridges in Baltimore County are drawing more federal funds for repair and replacement than bridges in any other Maryland municipality, county and state officials said in recent interviews.
Of approximately $207 million in federal funds being spent in the next four years on bridges across Maryland, about $41 million will be used to fix bridges in Baltimore County, officials said. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total.
Montgomery County has the second highest total, with about $35 million in federal funds being spent now or pledged for future bridge projects, officials said.
Anne Arundel County comes in third, with about $24 million pledged, followed by Talbot County with about $16 million and Prince George’s County with $15 million, officials said.
Federal money covers 80 percent of the repair or replacement costs, with a county or the state contributing the remaining 20 percent for bridges each maintains.
State and local officials said federal funding totals are based on a number of criteria.
Each year, Maryland State Highway Administration officials give safety ratings to the most deficient bridges it maintains, said John Logan, assistant chief of the bridge design division.
Those with the worst problems get prioritized for replacement or repair projects, he said.
It doesn’t hurt if the road is well traveled, he said.
“Chances are when you’ve got a major highway, with major traffic volume, these are the ones that are going to get the money spent on them first,” Logan said.
For the 2,400 or so bridges maintained by Maryland’s counties, federal funding is based on the county’s number of deficient bridges, its total number of bridges, and its population, said Ralph Manna, senior project team leader for the SHA bridge design division.
Not coincidentally, Baltimore and Montgomery counties both have high numbers of bridges, numerous deficient bridges and heavy traffic volume, Capital News Service’s computer analysis of SHA records revealed. For instance:
* Of the 4,826 bridges in Maryland, both county- and state- maintained, 761 are located in Baltimore County – more than any other county.
* With its 346 bridges, Montgomery County has the fifth- highest bridge total in the state.
* Of the 100 most-traveled bridges in Maryland, 27 are located in Baltimore County; 32 in Montgomery County.
* Baltimore County also ranks second highest of the state’s 24 jurisdictions for its number of bridges needing replacement or repair, with 23. Montgomery County comes in fourth in a three-way tie, with 18.
Most counties use their federal money for construction, Manna said. Officials in Montgomery, Harford and Somerset counties said their governments also apply for federal funding for some design, engineering or land acquisition costs.
“Generally what’s driving the counties is their own funding,” Manna said, adding that if a county can’t pay its share of the cost, local officials may choose to apply for federal funds in a later year.
Baltimore, which maintains bridges on state highways running through the city in addition to its locally owned bridges, has or will receive about $13 million for six bridge reconstruction projects, said Vanessa C. Pyatt, spokeswoman for the public works department. Full information was not available for Allegany, Calvert and Caroline counties. -30-