BigNews.Biz - Apr 11,2017 - King, Shaheen Reintroduce Bill to Repair Aging Bridges
Legislation would dedicate more than $15 million annually to Maine to repair structurally-deficient or obsolete bridges across the state
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in reintroducing the Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges (SAFE Bridges) Act, legislation that would begin to address the more than 56,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. More specifically, the legislation would establish a program to provide funding specifically dedicated to repairing and replacing bridges categorized as structurally deficient.
“In Maine, bridges are a critical part of our infrastructure network. Not only do they connect communities, but they support commerce and foster economic growth,” Senator King said. “But today, too many bridges in Maine are in a dangerous state of disrepair, posing serious safety risks to the public and threatening jobs. This legislation would help fix that problem by providing more than $15 million per year to the state to upgrade failing bridges and it would put Maine people to work doing it – a winning combination.”
In its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave our nation’s bridge network a barely passing grade of C+. In 2016 ASCE graded Maine’s bridge network at a below average C- noting that the state’s highway system includes a total of 3,714 bridges, 58 percent of which are more than 50 years old.
According to the same report, the Maine Department of Transportation has projected that it will need an additional $33 million in annual funding to achieve long-term, sustained improvements. This legislation would provide more than $15 million annually to achieve that goal.
The SAFE Bridges Act would authorize an additional $2.75 billion annually through FY2020 to enable states to repair and replace their structurally deficient bridges. The bill uses bill a needs-based formula to provide states with funding levels according to their share of the nation’s deficient bridges.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Bob Casey (D-Penn.).