A crumbling bridge connecting two Lake Minnetonka bays is getting a nearly $270,000 grant to plan future fixes.

The St. Albans Bay Bridge between Greenwood and Excelsior is among 23 across the United States to benefit from the first round of funding through the federal Bridge Investment Program, a component of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law.

"This was a project that called for outside assistance," Acting Excelsior Mayor Jennifer Caron said at a news conference announcing the grant Wednesday. "This funding program, geared toward small cities that are often overlooked, and the timing of this grant with what will hopefully be ongoing support for construction, could not have come at a better moment."

The $269,600 grant will go toward planning costs for future repairs to the bridge. The money can't be used for construction costs. Projects that receive planning grants through the bridge program could later be eligible for federal construction grants, according to a Wednesday news release.

"I wish we could have done it sooner," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents the area. "But the fact is that we're doing it ... [and it] hopefully restores a little bit of hope and faith in our government and all of us."

President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law last year, launching nationwide investments in projects ranging from highways to railways to waterways. Minnesota stands to receive more than $1.2 billion for roads, bridges, public transit, ports and airports in 2022 alone. The five-year bridge program offers a total of $12.5 billion nationally, including nearly $2.4 billion in fiscal year 2022.

"Bridges are really about connections. And with this grant, bringing the project one step closer to construction, we look forward to seeing the results of your hard planning work down the road," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack, who visited Minnesota on Wednesday. "Cities like Greenwood and Excelsior are playing a key role in reimagining and transforming our nation's infrastructure."

Minnesota has more than 600 bridges in poor condition, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation; the St. Albans Bay Bridge, a 1941 Works Progress Administration project, is among them. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the structurally deficient bridge carries an average of 4,400 vehicles a day.

Greenwood Mayor Debra Kind, who lives near the bridge, said the aging structure has been top-of-mind throughout her 14 years as mayor — and likely was for her predecessors, too.

"It's hard to imagine life without this connection," she said. "I cross this bridge every day."