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Section 3: Funding Historic Bridge Projects

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Funding Programs

Highway Bridge Program. Limited federal funding programs exist for the rehabilitation and adaptive use of historic bridges. TxDOT uses the Highway Bridge Program (HBP) to manage these limited federal funds. The funds are managed by BRG to ensure that federal and state requirements and performance measures are met. HBP funds may be used to maintain and rehabilitate historically significant bridges located either off-system or on-system; however, the projects are subject to funding limitations as described later in this section. For more information on the HBP and its eligibility requirements, see Chapter 2, Section 3 of the Bridge Project Development Manual.

Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TA Set-Aside). The Transportation Alternative Program has been replaced by funding set aside within the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) known as the TA Set-Aside. Guidance regarding applicant eligibility, project eligibility, and the competitive selection process for proposed projects is set forth in 23 USC 133(h). TxDOT uses funds from the TA Set-Aside to facilitate eligible federally funded projects. TxDOT’s Public Transportation (PTN) and Transportation Planning and Programming (TPP) Divisions oversee the use of TA Set-Aside funds to ensure the Texas Transportation Commission rules and all federal requirements are met.

Projects for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic bridges for non-vehicular use may be eligible for TA Set-Aside funds. Additional information about TA Set-Aside funds can be found on the FHWA website.

Other programs. Other federal and state funding categories may be used to perform maintenance or rehabilitation on historic bridges. To ensure the work does not adversely affect the historical significance of the bridge, coordination with BRG and ENV is required.

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Funding Limitations

General Discussion. On-system and off-system historic bridge projects are funded using either federal or state funds or a combination. Only when the legislature designates a specific project or bond funds are approved by the voters, can state funds alone be utilized for off-system historic bridge projects. Off-system projects funded through the HBP will have local participation or equivalent match work as the local contribution.

Rehabilitation for Continued Vehicular Use. Federal funds are available to rehabilitate historic bridges for continued vehicular service provided that the historic bridge is considered significant under Section 144 of the United States Code (23 USC 144). Bridges which have been closed for five or more consecutive years with no corrective action taken are not considered significant per 23 USC 144, and are not eligible for federal funding. In addition, the FHWA Memorandum dated November 16, 2001, Subject: ACTION: HBRRP Closed Bridge Report, states that any insignificant bridges, such as the bridges closed for five or more consecutive years, should be removed from the National Bridge Inventory.

Historic bridges that are deemed significant under 23 USC 144 are eligible for federal funding if the rehabilitation will restore the load capacity and safety features required for the intended service life of the bridge. Federal funds are limited to the reasonable costs associated with rehabilitation as determined by an evaluation of the structural and safety needs for the bridge at the existing location.

Historic bridges rehabilitated for continued vehicular use with only state funds, including maintenance projects, typically do not have limits on funding.

Coordinate all on-system bridge projects, including maintenance projects, affecting a historic bridge with BRG and ENV.

This coordination effort:

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  • Ensures federal and state regulatory compliance.
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  • Ensures the work proposed does not adversely affect the historic integrity of the bridge or cause programmatic issues.
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  • Provides ENV the opportunity to collaborate with other jurisdictional agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Coast Guard, when federal permits are needed.

Preservation for Non-vehicular Use. Federal funds for preservation of historic bridges for non-vehicular use are limited to the cost of demolition. Once demolition funds have been used, the historic bridge will no longer be eligible for any additional federal funds authorized under Title 23 for preservation activities regardless of the entity developing the project. (23USC 144(g)).

Historic bridges preserved for non-vehicular use with only state funds typically do not have limits on funding.

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