As the presidential candidates descend upon the Iowa Caucuses they may also inadvertently take a trip over a structurally deficient bridge.
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Iowa, along with Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, leads the U.S. in the number of structurally deficient bridges, according to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration. Twenty-percent of bridges in these three states are characterized as structurally deficient. While these bridges are still deemed safe enough to use they are due for repairs and improvements.
“We shouldn't have to worry about whether or not we're traveling across structurally deficient bridges when we drive to work each day,” Stephen Lee Davis of Transportation For America, a nonpartisan alliance of business, civic and elected leaders, tells FOXBusiness.com. There are 60,000 + deficient bridges in the U.S., says Davis, and “that’s just too many.”
Davis argues the rate of bridge repair has slowed and federal funding has remained flat since 2009. On top of that, individual states are responsible for deploying the funds and that is not always managed as it should be. Davis says his polling consistently shows that taxpayers want dollars prioritized to maintain bridges and roads backed by measurable goals to ensure progress is being made.
Dept. of Transportation & Congress
Some progress is being made at the federal level. The number of structurally deficient bridges has come down to about 10%, according to DOT, and last year Congress passed a five-year $305 billion transportation bill, the first in about a decade. While a positive overall in terms of repairing decaying infrastructure, it was less than the Obama Administration’s original goals.
Pockets of Progress
Still some states such as New York are forging ahead with major upgrades. Governor Andrew Cuomo is directing the $3.9 billion upgrade of the Tappan Zee Bridge, part of Interstate 87 and 287, which carries 138,000 vehicles per day, far more the bridge was designed to support. Already 5,000 individuals have worked on the New NY Bridge which is expected to be completed by 2018, according to the New NY Bridge Project. A formal bridge name has not been announced.
Infrastructure & The Campaign Trail
Improving infrastructure in the U.S. is already a priority for some of the candidates on the campaign trail. Last year, Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton announced a blueprint for a five-year $275 billion dollar infrastructure plan. Within that she notes, “America’s roads and bridges are in a state of disrepair. More than half of our highways are 45 years or older and nearly one in four bridges requires significant repair.” She is promising to make “smart and coordinated investments” when it comes to upgrading U.S. transportation infrastructure.
“America’s roads and bridges are in a state of disrepair. More than half of our highways are 45 years or older and nearly one and four bridges requires significant repair.”
During FOX Business Network’s GOP Debate in January, when asked about funding infrastructure upgrades, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’d offer a favorable one-time tax for U.S. companies holding hoards of cash overseas if they’d bring it home – the savings would go to infrastructure. “Bring the money -- the $2 trillion -- back to the United States. We'll tax it, that one time, at 8.75 percent, because 35 percent of zero is zero, but 8.75 percent of $2 trillion is a lot of money. And I would then dedicate that money to rebuilding infrastructure here in this country.”