May 25 2021
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and a bipartisan group of senators to introduce legislation that would establish a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog.
The Bridge Investment Act is included in a surface transportation bill the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee will markup on Wednesday.
“The recent closure of the Interstate 40 bridge across the Mississippi River demonstrates the need to ensure states have the funding necessary to make structural improvements to critical infrastructure,” said Boozman. “This legislation will allow targeted federal investments to make repairs to our aging bridges so we can prevent unexpected closures, promote safety and support economic growth.”
“Rebuilding bridges across the U.S. will create new jobs and make our country more competitive,” said Brown. “Ohio has more than 3,200 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced to make them safer and reduce congestion. But states and cities can’t do it alone – they need real investment to help fix these outdated bridges that clog up our roads and leave drivers at greater risk of an accident. This bipartisan program will help deliver a new Brent Spence and make travel safer across Ohio.”
The Bridge Investment Act provisions included in the EPW package would:
· Provide $3.265 billion to fund the Highway Trust Fund, which establishes a bridge investment program to award competitive grants to certain governmental entities for projects that improve the condition of bridges as well as the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of people and freight over bridges
· Authorize an additional $3.265 billion that can be provided in future appropriations to support the new bridge program
· Require strong Buy America rules, by requiring all projects funded by the grants to use American-made steel and iron
· Ensure that a transportation bill could rehabilitate or replace bridges of all sizes, including nationally significant large bridges
· Create an innovative evaluation process for proposed projects to ensure the fair and efficient allocation of federal funding
· Provide quick grants for small bridge projects and allow projects to be bundled into a single application to cut down on red tape and accelerate repairs
· Allow entities of all sizes and scope to apply for funding, including: states, counties, cities, metropolitan planning organizations, special purpose districts, public authorities with transportation functions, federal land management agencies and Indian tribes
The American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure found there are at least 46,154 bridges in the U.S. that are ‘structurally deficient’ and 231,000 still need repair and preservation work. Additionally, a report, released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, estimates it would take nearly 40 years to repair the current backlog of ‘structurally deficient’ bridges in the U.S. at the current pace.