Deficient Bridges Hearing Starts House Transportation Committee's Fall Agenda

Deficient bridges nationwide will be discussed in a full committee hearing starting at 11 a.m. Eastern on Sept. 5 by members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, with the committee's chairman, James Oberstar, ready to lead the charge. Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced a legislative plan to fund bridge repairs Aug. 8 -- one week after the highway bridge fell in Minneapolis, his home state, igniting a national debate on dangerous infrastructure.

Oberstar said there are 73,784 bridges in the United States rated "structurally deficient" by the U.S. Department of Transportation, with 6,175 of these on the National Highway System; of those 6,175, there are 2,830 on interstate highways, he said. His plan has four parts: improved bridge inspection requirements, dedicated funding, money to be distributed based on public safety and need with congressional and administration earmarks prohibited, and creation of a trust fund modeled after the Highway Trust Fund and used solely to repair, rehabilitate, and replace structurally deficient bridges. "We cannot wait for another tragedy," he said. "We must act, and act quickly."

To see a webcast of the Sept. 5 hearing, visit http://transportation.house.gov/. For a list of Congressional District maps depicting the structurally deficient bridges in each district, go to http://transportation.house.gov/bridgemaps.shtml.

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