News From Vermont Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders
U.S. Senate Adds $1 Billion To Repair Bridges
Vermont Would Receive $7 Million
In the wake of last month's Minnesota bridge collapse, the U.S. Senate on Monday approved $1 billion in targeted funding toward bridge rehabilitation and replacement across the country.
The additional funding would direct more than $7 million to Vermont to replace or rehabilitate structurally deficient bridges throughout the state, Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders announced.
The amendment to the Senate Transportation Appropriations Bill passed in a vote of 60 to 33.
"The nation's bridges are deteriorating faster than most states can afford to fix or replace them," said Leahy, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, which handles the Senate's work on the transportation funding bill. "This problem is particularly acute in Vermont, where we have one of the highest percentages of structurally deficient bridges in the country. The war in Iraq continues to divert resources needed here at home, and we need to do more, but this is a sizable increase that will begin making a difference."
Sanders, a member of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, said, "I have held hearings all over Vermont on infrastructure needs and understand very well that there are serious problems in Vermont and across the country. This funding is a small step but an important one toward helping us resolve the crisis of our crumbling infrastructure"
The Vermont Agency of Transportation recently provided information on the status of the state's bridges to Sanders, for use by the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. According to VTrans, Vermont has one of the highest percentages of structurally deficient bridges in the nation, ranking 9th with more than 16 percent (436) of its 2,686 long structures - with span lengths of 20 feet or greater -- meeting this classification. More than half of Vermont's bridges, about 60 percent, are more than 40 years old, while 331, about 12 percent, are more than 80 years old.
The amendment provides an additional $1 billion for activities authorized under the Federal Highway Administration's Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation program, which provides grants to each state for bridge replacement, bridge rehabilitation, preventative maintenance, seismic retrofitting; bridge inspections, and activities designed to protect bridges and extend their life spans. For the past five years, an average of $5.3 billion has been spent on bridge rehabilitation and replacement. The Senate-passed amendment would add to this level by about 20 percent.