As Reported By Jared DuBach for Galva News
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Darin LaHood on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill that would repair bridges and create jobs.
The Bridge Investment Act will invest $20 billion into repairing more than 47,000 “structurally-deficient” bridges. The act will also streamline repair processes with a grant program. As a result of the extensive repairs, jobs may be created around the country. This bill has companion legislation in the Senate’s America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act. That bill passed out of the Public Works Committee in July 2019, but has not gone to a vote on the floor yet.
LaHood sponsors the bill with Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, Republican Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana and New York Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. Blumenauer serves with LaHood in the House Ways and Means Committee.
“Investing in our local infrastructure is critical to growing our economy, and our bipartisan bill does just that. Illinois ranks number four in the nation for the most structurally deficient bridges and Illinois’ 18th District has over 400 structurally deficient bridges. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to ensure our bridge infrastructure gets much-needed funding for repairs and upgrades” said Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap.
“It’s no secret that America is falling apart and falling behind. I’m pleased that we are focusing on one of the most pressing needs in American with our Bridge Investment Act. It is past time that we come together in a bipartisan fashion to rebuild and renew American infrastructure,” said Rep. Blumenauer.
“We’ve seen the tragic consequences of under-funding bridge maintenance in places like Atlanta and Minneapolis in recent years. There is a big difference between a crack on a road and a crack on a bridge. There must be special attention to bridges as their failure can compromise entire regional transportation systems. With two-thirds of the continental United States’ water draining into the Mississippi River system, Louisiana has the highest number of bridge crossings per mile in the nation. This grant opportunity will help us focus on updating our bridges to support a safe and efficient transportation system and I look forward to supporting this bipartisan provision in the upcoming reauthorization of our highway and surface transportation programs,” said Rep. Graves.
According to LaHood’s staff, the U.S. Department of Transportation has put the bridge repair backlog at $123.1 billion, including $17.3 billion in need repairs and improvements to rural and local bridges that are not part of the federal-aid highway network. At this time, unless the bridge act becomes law, there is no federal program that directs money specifically to bridge repair projects.
he Bridge Investment Act is designed to:
• Invest $20 billion over five years in bridge repairs to balance state and local contributions, leading to $40 billion in projects.
• Create a grant program for bridges of all sizes, including those in local and rural areas off the national highway system.
• Supplement new federal formula funding in a package with the $20 billion to address the repair backlog.
• Establish a nonpartisan standardized evaluation process for proposed projects and benefits. This is to ensure fair access to funds for projects across the country.
• Permit medium and small projects to be streamlined by bundling them into one application.
• Allow large project can received multi-year grant agreements.
• Create jobs by requiring compliance with the Davis-Bacon standard and “Buy America” standard requirements for federally aided highway projects.
The Bridge Investment Act is supported by the American Society of Civil Engineers, International Union of Operating Engineers, Transportation Trades Department of AFL-CIO, American Roads & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America.
“For too long, tens of thousands of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges have stunted our nation’s economic growth and impeded the safe, efficient transport of people and goods. This problem, like all of our country’s many transportation infrastructure challenges, will not simply fix itself. It demands immediate attention, and the Bridge Investment Act must be part of the solution. By investing $75 billion additional dollars over the next 10 years, this legislation will allow us to begin repairing and rebuilding bridges that put the safety and economic wellbeing of communities across the country at risk while fueling middle-class job creation,” said Larry Willis, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.
The text of the bridges bill can be found online at: https://bit.ly/2S8e0st