US Representatives Darin LaHood, Earl Blumenauer, Garret Graves and Sean Patrick Maloney have introduced the Bridge Investment Act this week. The bipartisan bill aims to invest US$20 billion into repairing the USA’s 47,000+ structurally-deficient bridges, streamline the bridge repair process through a grant programme and create jobs.

“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,” said Blumenauer. “It is past time that we come together in a bipartisan fashion to rebuild and renew American infrastructure.”

Graves added: “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.”

The US Department of Transportation had estimated that there is a US$123.1 billion bridge repair backlog, including US$17.3 billion-worth of needed repairs and improvements to rural and local bridges located off the federal-aid highway network. There is no federal programme that directs funding specifically to bridge repair and rehabilitation projects. 

The  Bridge Repair Act would invest US$20 billion over five years in bridge repairs that would be leveraged by state and local contributions, resulting in up to US$40 billion of projects. Measures include the creation of a grant programme to rehabilitate, improve or replace bridges of all sizes, including local and rural bridges located off the National Highway System.  

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.