by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
“President Biden’s infrastructure deal will rebuild thousands of bridges,” says the official White House Twitter account.
Almost one month after the bipartisan infrastructure deal was announced, we still only have the same fact-free fact sheet from the White House from June 24. The little information we have tells us that the “roads, bridges, major projects” section of the bipartisan infrastructure deal is for $109 billion. Let’s say for sake of argument (since we don’t know the specifics) that the $109 billion is split equally between roads, bridges, and major projects. That means $36 billion for bridges.
That’s 3 percent of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan framework.
But remember, that’s the smaller of the two bills the White House wants. They also want a $3.5 trillion package. So we need to look at $36 billion as a percentage of $4.7 trillion, the total spending that the White House is advocating.
That’s 0.8 percent for bridges.
To look at it from the other side of things, consider if we actually spent all $4.7 trillion on bridges. One of the most expensive bridge projects in recent memory was the new Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. The cost of that entire project — a totally new, dual-span, eight-lane, 3.1-mile freeway bridge — was about $4 billion.
$4.7 trillion gets you 1,175 Tappan Zee Bridges.
The Tappan Zee Bridge was a massive project, though. A more normal project is a highway overpass. One was being debated in Seymour, Mo., this June. The price tag for that bridge was $18.2 million.
$4.7 trillion gets you 258,242 Seymour overpasses.
If we want to fix bridges, let’s talk about that. But 99.2 percent of Biden’s infrastructure proposals isn’t about bridges.
Imagine that: A politician is using a popular idea, increased funding for roads and bridges, as the hook to build support for otherwise wasteful government spending. I’m shocked.