May 25, 2021

Van Hollen, Senators Introduce Bipartisan ‘Bridge Investment Act’ to Provide Significant Federal Investment In Bridge Repair

Legislation Aims to Provide Funding for Nationally & Regionally Significant Bridges

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rob Portman (R-OH), 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) introduced their bipartisan Bridge Investment Act ahead of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee highway markup this week. This bill would establish a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog. The EPW Committee will vote on this legislation tomorrow, and it is then expected to be included in a larger surface transportation bill considered on the Senate floor. The Senators previously introduced this legislation in 2019.

“People in Maryland and across the country depend on the safety of our roads and bridges every single day – but far too much of our infrastructure is in disrepair. This bipartisan bill is essential to ensuring that the many neglected bridge projects in our state get the resources they need to improve travel and commuting for Marylanders,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.

“Rebuilding bridges across the U.S. will create new jobs and make our country more competitive,” said Senator Brown, who serves as Chairman on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. “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 But states and cities can’t do it alone – they need real investment to help fix these outdated bridges that clog up our roads and leave drivers at greater risk of an accident.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 and make travel safer across Ohio.”

“Oklahomans are well aware of the need to invest in bridges,” said Senator Inhofe. “Our state used to be one of the worst states for having a high number of structurally-deficient bridges, but because of my work in SAFETEA-LU, MAP-21 and the FAST Act, Oklahoma received the federal resources needed to make bridge repairs and replacement a priority. Today, we are ninth in the nation for having the fewest number of structurally deficient highway system bridges. Now, we cannot rest on our past success, we need to continue to make improving our nation’s infrastructure a priority. That’s why I am glad to re-introduce the Bridge Investment Act alongside Sen. Brown and I will work to ensure its inclusion in the bipartisan Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021.”

The Bridge Investment Act provisions expected to be 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, 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

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.