Senators introduce bipartisan ‘Bridge Investment Act’
Published 3:00 pm Wednesday, May 26, 2021
A group of U.S. senators introduced their bipartisan Bridge Investment Act ahead of the Environment and Public Works Committee highway markup this week. The EPW Committee will vote on this legislation Wednesday, and it is then expected to be included in a larger surface transportation bill considered on the Senate floor. The Senators previously introduced this legislation in 2019. This bill would establish a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog.
Senators who worked together on the bill are Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) of Brookhaven, Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Boozman (R-AR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Bob Casey (D-PA).
“Mississippi, with nearly 6,000 bridges, faces the same challenges seen across the nation in terms of bridge disrepair,” said Hyde-Smith. “Our proposed competitive federal grant program and other reforms would help states and communities overcome the public safety, economic, and quality of life challenges arising from aged and compromised bridges.”
“Many of Mississippi’s bridges were built decades ago and are in need of major repairs. This problem also exists across the nation. The Bridge Investment Act would launch a competitive federal grant program specifically designed for bridges, allowing states like Mississippi to access much-needed resources to complete these capital-intensive projects,” said Wicker, who serves as ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and is a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“Rebuilding bridges across the U.S. will create new jobs and make our country more competitive,” said Brown, who serves as Chairman on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
The Bridge Investment Act provisions expected to be included in the EPW package would:
- Provide $3.265 billionto 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 billionthat 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, like the Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky.
- 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.