Joe Friedrichs

Cook County may face challenges to secure federal dollars from massive infrastructure bill

For many years, and through the tenure of multiple highway engineers, Cook County has struggled to maintain and repair its many bridges throughout the massive county.

It appeared good news was on the horizon when the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was signed by President Joe Biden last month. However, the Associated Press reports that much of that money will flow to state governments, often landing in metro areas. Beyond that, counties, cities and townships are set to compete for grants and loans, with state officials deciding where the money ends up.

This is an issue not just because of the possible challenges involved with securing the federal funding, but also because of the immediacy of the issue in Cook County. According to a 2019 Minnesota Department of Transportation bridge survey, more than 22 percent of the bridges on local roadways are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Bridges with this condition status are considered unsafe and a safety hazard, according to Cook County Highway Engineer Robbie Hass.

In Cook County, 13 of the recognized 58 recognized bridges are listed as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. State officials have the authority to shut down roads where these bridges needing repair are located.

Hass told WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs the process to obtain funding through the massive infrastructure bill is complex but could still ultimately bring funding for the county’s roads and bridges. The audio below shares news on this topic and other news from the local highway department.