Streams

Transportation Group Fears Funding Collapse For Bridge Repair

Friday, April 25, 2014

There are 63,000 structurally deficient bridges across the U.S., and the fund to fix them is drying up, according to a new report from the trade group American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

The report’s author, ARTBA chief economist Alison Black, discusses the problem with Here & Now’s Robin Young. She says that of the 250 most heavily crossed structurally deficient bridges, “well over 150″ of them are in California.

Interview Highlights: Alison Black

On determining which bridges are not structurally sound

“The Federal Highway Administration collects data every year from state DOTs and other bridge owners about the status of the nation’s bridges. So they do have a ratings system based on bridge inspections that are conducted at least every two years on all the structures across the United States. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient if one of the key structural elements, which could include the deck, superstructure or substructure, is rated in poor condition.”

On the Highway Trust Fund going insolvent by end of the fiscal year

“The challenge is that all the revenues coming into the Highway Trust Fund need to be used to pay for projects that are ongoing. So the Highway Trust Fund will definitely be able to meet all of its commitments, in terms of making sure that any project underway will continue to receive federal funds. However, there are not enough revenues to get any new projects underway in fiscal year 2015, which starts October 1st. And this is going to have a significant impact on every state highway and bridge construction program. When you look at the last 10 years, on average, the federal aid program is about 52 percent of all state highway and bridge construction spending, so it’s a very very important part of the overall market in trying to address some of these condition issues.”

What states are doing to make up for the federal funding

“We’ve seen six states increase their gas taxes or their revenues, including sales taxes on gasoline, just in 2013 alone, so states are trying to address this issue, but again we are so far behind the eight ball in terms of what we need to be spending to make the significant improvements to help our economy.”

Guest

Copyright 2014 WBUR-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wbur.org.

Source: NPR

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