NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg made a stop in New London on Wednesday to discuss major federal funding for the state’s largest bridge in front of congressional and state leaders.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg officially announced the $158 million dollar Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding for the northbound portion of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge. The project is now expected to be completed a year ahead of schedule.

This is one of four bridge projects in the country to receive the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law money during the first round of this highly competitive funding.

The bridges were chosen for their importance to local communities and regional economies, and for the essential role they play in moving goods in the national supply chain.

The five-lane bridge carries 60,000 vehicles a day between New London and Groton.

“As everybody here knows the bridge is not in good enough shape,” Buttigieg said. “It’s about to turn 80 years old. Parts have been given a rating of poor.”

The bridge has a 40-ton weight limit on it and trucks with heavy loads typically have to go the long way around.

“Every day as was mentioned we have to make the decision of taking that 17-mile loop around or loading our trucks underweight,” Carolina Cavalcante, President of Tilcon Connecticut said.

Construction work on the bridge will be completed in two phases.

In the first phase, more than 160,000 rivets are being replaced with high-strength bolts. This initial contract work began in the spring and will continue until June of 2025.

The next month after that in July the second contract work begins and is expected to continue for four more years after that.