The Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges Act (SAFE Bridges) was introduced this week in companion legislation in both chambers of Congress to help address America’s structurally deficient bridges.
The bill would authorize $2.75 billion a year through fiscal year 2025 to establish a formula grant program for states to rehabilitate and replace bridges in poor condition. The grant program would be needs based and would allocate funding to states according to their respective share of the nation’s poor condition bridges, according the website of Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who co-sponsored the House bill with New Hampshire Democrats Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster.
“Both the president and members of Congress from both parties have spoken about the need to rehabilitate our aging infrastructure. This bill presents an opportunity to begin to make good on that pledge,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (pictured above), D-N.H., who co-sponsored the Senate bill with Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Angus King, I-Maine.
Nearly 235,000 U.S. bridges — 38% — need repair, rehabilitation or replacement, according to analysis of the Transportation Department’s 2018 National Bridge Inventory (NBI) database released earlier this year by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). The NBI data found 47,052 of the nation’s 616,087 bridges were rated “structurally deficient,” which meant at least one of a bridge’s key structural elements — the deck, superstructure, substructure or culverts — were in poor or worse condition.
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The legislation, favorably reported to the House by a 29-21 vote, provides $137.1 billion in budgetary resources and includes $75.8 billion in discretionary funding.
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