July 30, 2019

Van Hollen, Senators Secure More Than $3.25 Billion to Create New Bridge Repair Grants in Highway Package Passed Out of Key Committee Today

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) along with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Ed Markey (D-MA) secured their Bridge Investment Act in the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Highway package that passed the Committee today. The EPW package includes $3.265 billion to fund the Senators’ bipartisan, bridge bill, which establishes a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog. The program requires all projects funded by the grants to use American-made steel and iron. In addition to the $3.265 billion provided to fund the grant program initially, the bill authorizes an additional $3.265 billion that could be provided to fund the new bridge program in the future. 

The Bridge Investment Act passed the EPW Committee today as part of a highway package that will be combined into a larger surface transportation bill.

  • A report in April found that the pace of bridge repair has slowed, despite the fact that more than 47,000 bridges in the U.S. are ‘structurally deficient’ and in need of urgent repairs. The report, released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, estimates it would take more than 80 years to repair the thousands of ‘structurally deficient’ bridges in the U.S. at the current pace.

 “People in Maryland and across the country depend on our roads and bridges every single day – but far too many of them are in disrepair. In fact, our nation’s infrastructure gets a grade of D+ from the American Society of Civil Engineers. This legislation will get more funding into the pipeline to address this problem. And, for the first time in a long time, it will provide federal funding specifically for bridge repairs and rehabilitation projects – meeting a need that I hear about from local leaders on a constant basis,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Rebuilding bridges across the U.S. will create new jobs and make our country more competitive,” said Senator Brown. “Ohio has more than 6,000 bridges that need structural repairs or other updates 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.”

“Bridges are a key part of America’s highway system, and need to be a priority as we rebuild our nation’s infrastructure,” said Senator Inhofe. “Oklahomans know how important investing in bridges is—at one point, our state was in the top five for number of structurally-deficient bridges. Because of my provision in the FAST ACT, we made bridge repairs and replacement a priority, and now we are a leader in having the fewest number of structurally deficient highway system bridges. Yet, more work remains on hundreds of bridges in Oklahoma and we must stay focused on the investment strategy we created. I’m proud the Committee has included the Bridge Investment Act in today’s highway package to give states the tools to address bridge repairs quickly.”

“All across Oregon, I hear concerns from Oregonians about our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. With over half of the bridges in Oregon being more than half a century old, our state is particularly vulnerable,” said Senator Wyden. “The Bridge Investment Act will provide a critical boost of funding to improve safety and promote economic growth. I look forward to a speedy passage of the Senate highway bill package so we can get to work helping to improve Oregon’s infrastructure.”

“Many of Mississippi’s bridges were built decades ago and are in need of major repairs. This problem also exists across the nation. I sponsored the Bridge Investment Act to provide support for rebuilding and repairing structurally-deficient bridges. With a competitive federal grant program specifically designed for bridges, states like Mississippi would be able to access much-needed resources to complete these capital-intensive projects,” said Senator Wicker.

“In Rhode Island and around the country, we have thousands of important bridge projects ready to create jobs and boost the economy.  Let’s do them,” said Senator Whitehouse. “That’s why I’m proud to announce that we’ve successfully included the Bipartisan Bridge Investment Act in this year’s Senate highway bill package.  This funding will address the backlog of local bridge repairs while creating jobs for Rhode Islanders.”

“West Virginia has more than its fair share of structurally deficient bridges, something I aim to change through America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act,” said Senator Capito. “The Bridge Investment Act, which we were able to secure in our broader surface transportation bill, will infuse $6 billion in additional funding to fix bridges in West Virginia and across the country, dedicated funding that is essential to addressing the problem. This measure will help ensure our bridges are more reliable and accessible—improving the safety and mobility of West Virginians and others across the country.” 

“I’m glad that the Bridge Investment Act will be included in the highway bill because this bipartisan legislation will get us that much closer towards a safe and modern replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge,” said Senator Rob Portman.

“Bridges across our country and particularly in Massachusetts are falling apart,” said Senator Ed Markey. We need to make a large investment in bridges to improve both safety and efficiency or our infrastructure, including critical evacuation routes, such as the Sagamore and Bourne Bridges - two 80-year old bridges that connect the 200,000 people living on Cape Cod to the mainland. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill today.”

Additional Bridge Investment Act provisions included in the EPW package would:

  • 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. 
  • Bundle medium and small projects 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, the International Union of Operating EngineersNational League of Cities, North America’s Building Trades Union, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America have endorsed these provisions.