House Passes Transportation Bill
WASHINGTON — UNDER the House surface transportation bill, the United States will increase its investment in highway and transit programs over the next six years.The House passed the $151 billion bill in 343 to 83 vote Wednesday. But despite this increase, the United States will spend the next 68 years trying to catch up with the backlog of bridges that need repair, according to The Road Information Program (TRIP). "An entire generation of bridges could be built and become obsolete or deficient in the length of time it takes us to address today's bridge problems," said William M. Wilkins, TRIP executive director. The US Department of Transportation, in its report this year to Congress on road and bridge needs, estimated it will take $6 billion to $8.5 billion annually over the next 20 years just to catch up with America's backlog of bridge improvements. Of the nation's 576,665 inventoried bridges, 225,828 are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Nearly two-thirds, 65 percent, of the nation's most heavily traveled roads are in need of immediate reconstruction or resurfacing. The House bill authorizes an average of $25.2 billion per year for road, bridge and mass transit programs. The Senate version, passed this summer, authorizes an average of $24.8 billion per year for surface transportation.