A bill called the Bridge Investment Act was recently introduced in the US Senate. It proposes $75 billion over the next 10 years for a grant program to repair the nation’s structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. Transportation Today says that according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, nearly one quarter of US bridges are in that category of disrepair.
“The bill’s proposed $75 billion of federal funding ‘would go a long way to lessening the $123 billion backlog, as it would be coupled with state and local investments to yield up to $150 billion worth of projects,’ James Pajk, Advocacy Captain at the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), told Transportation Today.”
The article on the website went on to say:
“The senators said the bill would create a competitive grant program that invests $75 billion over 10 years in bridge repair projects. These funds would help leverage additional investment from state and local entities, they said.
And along with proposing significant investments in bridge repair projects—which the bill’s sponsoring senators said are not currently prioritized under existing federal highway grant programs—the Bridge Investment Act also would:
- Help repair bridges of any size in urban and rural areas;
- Require all projects to use American-made steel and iron for bridge projects funded by the bill;
- Create an evaluation process for proposed projects to ensure federal funding is fairly and efficiently allocated; and
- Streamline the project application process for a variety of entities allowed to seek grants by bundling medium and small projects into one application.”
The bill was introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. All three are Democrats. Whether or not they can get this to be a bipartisan piece of legislation remains to be seen.
The Bridge Investment Act is not part of President Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure package, but Sen. Brown is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Sen. Wyden is the ranking member on the Finance Committee and Sen. Whitehouse is on the Environment and Public Works Committee. All three committees are involved in developing the President’s infrastructure package.
Is this that first step we’ve been waiting for that would lead to an overhaul of America’s failing infrastructure?
Or will it stall out like so many other best-laid plans?