House Passes Bill to Improve Bridge Safety

WASHINGTON (KAIT) - Congressman Marion Berry on Thursday voted in favor of legislation to inspect and repair the nation's structurally deficient bridges.  HR 3999, the National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act, will create stricter new bridge inspection standards and authorizes additional investments for reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges.  Arkansas could receive approximately $12 million from the bill which authorizes a total of $1 billion through the 2009 fiscal year.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 367 to 55.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Arkansas currently has a total of 43 structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System, including 14 within the First Congressional District.

The bill requires states to provide better training for bridge inspectors and mandates that all structurally deficient bridges be inspected annually.  Funding for bridge repair and reconstruction will be distributed to states by formula pursuant to Federal aid highway programs.  Those funds may not be earmarked or diverted to other purposes by Congress or the Administration.