Legislation Passed Key Senate Committee This Morning; Could Provide Funding for Brent Spence Bridge and Other Nationally & Regionally Significant Bridges
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today hosted a news conference call as he leads bipartisan legislation to establish a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog. Brown introduced this legislation ahead of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee highway package markup this week. The committee approved the larger highway package, with the Bridge Investment Act included, earlier this morning. It is now expected to be included in a larger surface transportation bill considered on the Senate floor. The Senator previously introduced this legislation in 2019.
“Rebuilding bridges across the U.S. will create new jobs and make our country more competitive,” said Brown. “Ohio has more than 3,200 bridges that need to be repaired or replaced to make them safer and reduce congestion. But states and cities can’t do it alone – they need real investment to help fix these outdated bridges that clog up our roads and leave drivers at greater risk of an accident. This bipartisan program will help deliver a new Brent Spence Bridge and make travel safer across Ohio.”
The Bridge Investment Act included in the EPW package would:
- Provide $3.265 billion to 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 billion that can be provided in future appropriations to support the new bridge program
- Require strong Buy America rules – which Brown has long fought for – 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
Brown introduced this bill with Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rob Portman (R-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Boozman (R-AR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
Brown was joined on the call by Jill Meyer, President & CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
“In Cincinnati we’re working hard to build a connected region, and a critical part of that is to improve and maintain our region’s infrastructure. Programs like the one created by the Bridge Investment Act will ensure that projects like the Brent Spence Bridge and Western Hills Viaduct can access much-needed federal funds and finally move forward,” said Meyer.
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.
Brown is also continuing to press Congress to pass the American Jobs Plan, which would provide funds to modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads, and main-streets; repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges, providing critical linkages to communities; and support ambitious projects that have tangible benefits to the regional or national economy.
“The Bridge Investment Act would go a long way in accelerating and simplifying the funding process for repairs on the County’s 511 bridges,” said Judy Dodge, President of the Montgomery County Commission.
“No community should have to rely on bridges classified as structurally deficient. We thank Senator Brown for leading this bipartisan legislation that will help link our communities, improve safety, and increase the quality of life for our residents,” said Kevin Boyce, President of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners.
“I fully support Senator Brown’s Bridge Investment Act. The condition of the nation’s bridges is alarming on many federal and state highways, as well as those on the most rural county and township roads. It is also a situation that will take many years to correct or improve. I am confident that many local projects could be realized with this kind of investment,” said Jim Surber P.E.,P.S., Darke County Engineer.
“The Bridge Investment Act will bring new, much needed investment in our bridges. Creating new flexibility to fund large projects over multiple years will help communities take on significant projects that may have previously been too difficult,” said Nan Whaley, Mayor of the City of Dayton.
“Cities like Akron will benefit from the jobs created through this package as well as the lasting investment in our most critical infrastructure. I applaud Senator Brown and the sponsors of the Bridge Investment Act for recognizing that now is the time to reinvest in Americans bridges to ensure they are safe and stable for generations to come,” said Dan Horrigan, Mayor of the City of Akron.
“This bill is more than an investment in roads and bridges, it is an investment in our workforce and economy. The reality is we are net donors to the state and federal governments. We get back less, far less, than we send to Washington and Columbus. However, we’ve been forced to come up with our own infrastructure solutions in the absence of federal help, including passing a levy last year with funds dedicated to infrastructure. Senator Brown has been a steadfast ally to cities that face crumbling infrastructure and we are grateful for his continued leadership,” said John Cranley, Mayor of the City of Cincinnati.
“The reinstatement of the Bridge Investment Act allows us to ensure and prioritize the safety of our residents,” said Frank G. Jackson, Mayor of the City of Cleveland. “Investing in infrastructure aligns with our goal to recover from the impact of the pandemic while creating prosperity and quality of life for all.”
“The City of Toledo has lots of challenges with our bridges and identifying resources to repair them. In some instances, the safety of our bridges has put our communities at risk limiting access in and out of neighborhoods. The Bridge Investment Act is one more opportunity for us to make necessary investments to attract economic development to our community and to strengthen our neighborhoods,” said Wade Kapszukiewicz, Mayor of the City of Toledo.