CINCINNATI, OH — In front of the Western Hills Viaduct today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined business and community leaders and workers as he outlined his Bridge Investment Act, which calls for significant investment in bridge repair projects.
“It’s a disgrace that we have allowed the transportation system our parents and grandparents left us to fall into disrepair,” said Brown. “But this problem is also an opportunity we need to seize, to put Ohioans to work across our state.”
- Of the more than 27,000 bridges in Ohio, approximately 1,650 are classified as “structurally deficient” and 4,700 are classified as “functionally obsolete.” The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there is a $123 billion bridge repair backlog nationally, with more than $27 billion of bridge repair needs identified in Ohio.
- A list of Ohio bridges in southwest Ohio deemed “structurally deficient” and “functionally obsolete” can be found HERE.
- A number of Ohio and national organizations are supporting Brown’s bill.
For example, the Western Hills Viaduct is over a half mile long and carries over 55,000 vehicles daily. Built in 1932 and last rehabilitated in 1977, the bridge is structurally deficient. The Viaduct is expected to cost more than $300 million to repair, including approximately $70 million in inflation built into that costs based on the bridge’s projected timetable.
Brown was joined by Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus, OKI Regional Council of Governments CEO Mark Policinski, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber President & CEO Jill Meyer, and workers from Laborers’ Local 265.
“Large infrastructure projects like the Western Hills Viaduct are absolutely critical to our region’s economy. The city and the county have worked together to secure local funding, but these projects will require federal resources to complete. I’m glad we have a partner like Senator Sherrod Brown in our work to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs,” said Commissioner Driehaus.
“OKI applauds federal efforts to fix the nation’s bridges. Every day, tens of millions of Americans risk losing their jobs, incomes and lives because hazardous bridges are allowed to exist. There is no acceptable explanation for continued inaction on such important economic and life-threatening transportation assets,” said Mark Policinski, CEO of OKI.
Brown, ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, introduced his bill with Ron Wyden (D-OR), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. The Senators’ respective Committees represent key Committees in developing an infrastructure package. The bill would help repair bridges of all sizes in urban and rural areas, and require all projects to use American-made steel and iron for bridge projects funded by the bill.
Brown’s bill would also:
- Ensure that a bipartisan infrastructure package could eliminate the national bridge repair backlog, if the new bill is added to such a package.
- Create an innovative evaluation process for proposed projects to ensure the fair and efficient allocation of federal funding.
- Bundle medium and small projects into a single application to cut down on red tape and accelerate repairs.
- Allow entities of all sizes and scope to apply for funding, including: states, counties, cities, metropolitan planning organizations, special purpose districts, public authorities with transportation functions, federal land management agencies and Indian tribes.
The American Society of Civil Engineers, the International Union of Operating Engineers, National League of Cities, North America’s Building Trades Union, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors of America have announced their support for the bill.