Bridge safety legislation approved by House committee

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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Thursday, Nov. 1, approved bridge safety legislation that will allocate $2 billion from the General Fund to identify and rehabilitate structurally deficient bridges across the United States and reform bridge management practices.

H.R. 3999 requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to identify all structurally deficient federally funded bridges and prioritize replacement or rehabilitation needs and costs. At the same time, it requires states to report inspection results every two years and adds certification requirements to bridge inspector training programs. It further prevents states from deferring bridge rehabilitation funds to other projects unless they can show an absence of structurally deficient bridges.

House T&I Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) offered the legislation, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), in response to the deadly collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis in August. The American Trucking Associations lauded Oberstar for his leadership in proposing the bill designed to fix the nation’s worst bridges.

“Chairman Oberstar understands the importance of the nation’s infrastructure,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “There are very real safety and economic consequences from failing to adequately maintain and improve the system. ATA and its members are pleased to support efforts that address the vulnerabilities of the nation’s infrastructure.”