$5.5 billion federal bill looks to repair bridges

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WASHINGTON -- A West Virginia lawmaker and a former Pennsylvania governor teamed up this week to call for increased federal funding to repair crumbling bridges nationwide.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., recently introduced a $5.5 billion bridge bill, but it's unclear whether it will get a vote in the Transportation Committee, chaired by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Blair.

Committee spokesman Justin Harclerode said Mr. Shuster is working with Mr. Rahall, the committee's ranking Democrat, but is focused on a comprehensive transportation reauthorization bill rather than on separate measures addressing specific needs such as bridge funding.

Mr. Shuster wants broad legislation that "focuses our limited resources on our nation's most essential bridge, road and transit needs," Mr. Harclerode said.

But Mr. Rahall said bridges can't wait. "It's an emergency out there. We can't dilly-dally," he said.

Six weeks ago, a bridge over Skagit River in Mount Vernon, Washington, collapsed after it was struck by a truck.

"We cannot afford to wait for the next bridge collapse. It's time to act," Mr. Rahall said at a Thursday news conference on Capitol Hill.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who joined him at the news conference, said $5.5 billion is a small price for such important work.

"We always talk about the cost of infrastructure improvement, but what we don't talk about is the cost of doing nothing," said Mr. Rendell.

nation - Transportation

Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: 703-996-9292, tmauriello@post-gazette.com or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.


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