Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bridge Repair Bill Approved by House Transportation Committee

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bridge Repair Bill Approved by House Transportation Committee

Article excerpt

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently approved a bill to authorize $2 billion in general funds over two years to create a new program to repair thousands of structurally deficient bridges in the National Highway System (NHS) across the country.

The National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act of 2007, H.R. 3999, is the House's response to the devastating August bridge collapse in Minnesota. The bridge, which crossed the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, was one of over 6,000 NHS bridges in the U.S. rated "structurally deficient."

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, it would take about $65 billion to address all serious bridge deficiencies,

Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and bill co-sponsor, originally proposed to fund the bridge repair program by raising the gas tax by 5 cents per gallon over the next three years and funneling the revenues into a trust fund for bridges, Due to Republican criticism, a more modest funding method was included.

The bill would authorize $1 billion in each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009 from the General Fund to reconstruct structurally deficient bridges on the NHS. The funds would be distributed by the same formula mechanism now used for the Highway Bridge Program, except it would be based on the needs on the Federal-aid Highways in each state.

"This bill makes a good start. Tougher inspections will give us more data on the state of our nation's bridges. …

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