House Democrats introduce $5.5 billion bridge-funding bill

(Photo: Mike Renlund / Flickr)(Photo: Mike Renlund / Flickr)

Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced a bill that would allow $5.5 billion to be spent on bridge repairs in the United States, according to a report from The Hill.

The bill, known as the Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges (SAFE Bridges) Act, would affect more than 150,000 bridges that are classified as structurally deficient. (More details about these structurally deficient bridges are available in our 2012 Bridge Inventory.)

The proposed bill comes nearly a month after the Interstate 5 bridge in Washington collapsed into the Skagit River, sparking discussions about a need for increased infrastructure funding.

Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) referred to the collapse as a “nightmarish scene” and a “dramatic wakeup call” that should create debates about transportation funding.

“Congress simply cannot keep hitting the snooze button when it comes to needed investment in our nation’s bridges or think that these aging structures can be rehabilitated with rhetoric,” Rahall said.

Congress currently spends about $54 billion annually on transportation projects–an amount that transportation advocates have said is barely enough to maintain the transportation system and definitely not enough to make improvements.