LaHood, Bipartisan Group Introduce Bill to Repair and Update American Bridges and Create Jobs
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Garret Graves (R-LA), and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced the Bridge Investment Act, a bipartisan bill that will invest $20 billion into repairing America’s 47,000+ structurally-deficient bridges, streamline the bridge repair process with a competitive grant program, and create meaningful, good-paying jobs in communities across the country.
Bipartisan companion legislation was included in the Senate’s America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act and passed out of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in July of 2019. The bill was led by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
“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.
“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. Earl Blumenauer.
“We’ve seen the tragic consequences of underfunding 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. Garret Graves.
“Repairing our failing infrastructure has been a priority of mine since day one, and I’m proud to continue that commitment by working across the aisle to lead this strong, bipartisan bill. Together, we will reinvest billions into repairing bridges and create good paying, meaningful jobs across America,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.
Reps. LaHood and Blumenauer serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and Reps. Graves and Maloney serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The United States has approximately 47,000 structurally deficient bridges: bridges that need significant repairs or replacement to address structural elements that are in poor condition. Many more bridges have outdated designs that contribute to accidents and traffic congestion.
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there is a $123.1 billion bridge repair backlog, including $17.3 billion worth of needed repairs and improvements to rural and local bridges located off the federal-aid highway network. Despite the need, there is no federal program that directs funding specifically to bridge repair and rehabilitation projects.
The Bridge Investment Act will:
- Invest $20 billion over 5 years in bridge repairs that would be leveraged by state and local contributions, resulting in up to $40 billion of projects.
- Create a competitive grant program to rehabilitate, improve or replace bridges of all sizes, including local and rural bridges located off the National Highway System.
- Supplement new federal formula funding in an infrastructure package with the $20 billion to address the bridge repair backlog.
- Establish a non-partisan, standardized evaluation process for proposed projects and expected benefits, ensuring fair funding for projects across the country – regardless of project size.
- Enable states and local governments with transportation function, Federal land management agencies, and Indian tribes to apply for the grants.
- Streamline repairs of medium and small projects by bundling into a single application.
- Allow large projects to receive multi-year grant agreements.
- Create American jobs by requiring compliance with Davis-Bacon, “Buy America” and other standard requirements for federal-aid highway projects.
The Bridge Investment Act is supported by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, the American Roads & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and the Associated General Contractors of America.
“The Associated General Contractors of America welcomes the addition of the Bridge Investment Act into the conversation of how we can address the thousands of structurally-deficient bridges in communities throughout the country and we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration on an infrastructure package that provides new and additional resources to meet our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs,” said Jimmy Christianson, Vice President of Government Affairs, Associated General Contractors of America.
“If the 47,052 structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. were placed end-to-end, they would stretch nearly 1,100 miles—the distance between Chicago and Houston. Cars, trucks and school buses cross these compromised structures 178 million times every day. The Bridge Investment Act is a thoughtful approach to authorize federal investment to improve the safety and performance of bridges in need of repair across the country,” said David Bauer, CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
“Many of the nation’s bridges were built decades ago and are approaching or have reached the end of their design life. Our bridges, on which we travel for work, vacations, taking our children to school, and more need adequate funding to keep us safe. After all, ASCE gave our nation’s bridges a ‘C+’ on the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. It’s time to bring our bridges into the 21st Century, and the Bridge Investment Act will address their needs and make our nation stronger and safer,” said Kancheepuram "Guna" N. Gunalan, PE, President, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).
“The International Union of Operating Engineers proudly endorses the Bridge Investment Act, and looks forward to working with Congress to enact it into law in this session of Congress,” said James T. Callahan, General President of the International Union of Operating Engineers.
“At a time when too many Americans lack access to good, middle-class jobs and failure to fund and maintain our infrastructure has led us to a national crisis, the Bridge Investment Act is the kind of common-sense legislation our country needs.
“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 (TTD).
Text of the bill can be found here.