WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the 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 This bill would establish a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog.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. This legislation was previously introduced in 2019.
“Tennesseans, particularly those in Memphis and the Mid-South, know all too well right now the necessity of maintaining our bridges with the ongoing closure of the I-40 bridge,” Senator Hagerty said. “Tennessee taxpayers are supportive of investing in hard infrastructure, which offers a tangible and lasting return on their investment and ensures our state remains a hub for competition and commerce.”
“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 But states and cities can’t do it alone – they need real investment to help fix these outdated bridges that clog up our roads and leave drivers at greater risk of an accident.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.”
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.
- 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