By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

A bill introduced by Senate Democrats intended to pump $75 billion over a decade into a new competitive grant program for repairing the nation’s structurally deficient bridges.

The Bridge Investment Act is “a thoughtful proposal,” ARTBA President Pete Ruane wrote in a Jan. 3 letter supporting the plan to Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Ruane noted “we are not just suffering from a bridge crisis. We need to dramatically upgrade the nation’s roadways, public transportation facilities, airports, rails and waterways as well.

Brown, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are co-authors of the measure that would authorize the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to award funds for individual bridge projects that meet specified criteria.  While the measure would authorize spending, it would not generate the resources necessary to support new investments.

ARTBA continues to urge Congress and the administration to find a robust, permanent Highway Trust Fund revenue solution to grow federal highway, bridge and public transportation investment.

According to ARTBA’s analysis of the National Bridge Inventory, there are over 1.15 billion crossings every day on bridges in the United States that are classified as either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete – a designation that applies to 23 percent of the nation’s bridge network.

“Many of these bottlenecks and challenges occur on our nation’s major freight routes, having a significant impact on our economy and quality of life,” ARTBA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, who oversees the annual analysis, told Transportation Today. “Addressing the condition of our nation’s bridges is an important step to improving the overall performance of our nation’s infrastructure network.”