Infrastructure bonanza might not head off future bridge collapses

A Port Authority bus that was on a bridge when it collapsed Friday Jan. 28, 2022, is visible in Pittsburgh's East End.

A Port Authority bus that was on a bridge when it collapsed Friday Jan. 28, 2022, is seen in Pittsburgh’s East Finish. A two-lane bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh early Friday, prompting rescuers to rappel practically 150 ft (46 meters) whereas others shaped a human chain to assist rescue a number of folks from a dangling bus.(AP Picture/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/AP Picture

Biden, who had already been scheduled to go to Pittsburgh when the bridge fell, used Friday’s collapse to spotlight the necessity to fund repairs. The truth that no person was killed or severely injured gave Democrats the liberty to speak coverage whereas the scene was nonetheless being cleared.

“The following time, we don’t want headlines saying somebody was killed in a bridge collapse. When a bridge is in disrepair it may possibly threaten lives,” Biden stated throughout his speech in Pittsburgh.


Speaking up the brand new regulation, he stated: “We lastly obtained it carried out, a bipartisan infrastructure regulation in our nation’s bridges. That is the primary time within the nation’s historical past that we’ve devoted a nationwide program to restore and improve bridges.”

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who represents the world the place the collapse passed off, called the collapse a “tragic instance of why the infrastructure invoice Congress simply handed is required. We must always persistently be investing MORE in our infrastructure so our bridges and different public works don’t attain this level of disrepair.”

In fiscal 2019 alone, Pennsylvania received $1.77 billion in federal funds for its transportation needs. The state is predicted to obtain a further $4 billion from the infrastructure regulation Congress enacted final 12 months.

However that cash contains few strings that may power states to repair their current transportation tasks, slightly than constructing new ones. Congress additionally elected not to alter the best way these funds are distributed to states, permitting them to spend based mostly on their very own priorities.


“Merely giving states extra money isn’t any assure it will likely be spent properly, together with on system restore,” stated Kevin DeGood, director of infrastructure coverage for the Heart for American Progress. “Washington wants to carry states accountable for his or her funding selections.”

Biden has repeatedly stated he prefers a “repair it first” strategy, and actually the infrastructure invoice that Democrats within the Home initially produced included these ideas — similar to requiring states that wish to develop their highways to first present they’ve saved their infrastructure maintained. However that focus fell out of the invoice by the point Biden ultimately signed it.

Matt Casale, who oversees PIRG’s toxics, transportation and 0 waste campaigns, stated the most important takeaway from the collapse from a federal coverage perspective is that current bridges should be mounted first earlier than new tasks are funded.

“Whereas we now have spent billions of {dollars} constructing new freeway infrastructure, this bridge, like too many others throughout america, has lingered in poor situation for too lengthy,” Casale stated. He stated the brand new regulation “offers us with a possibility to appropriate this course and eventually construct a safer transportation system for all Individuals..”


Earlier this month, the Biden administration rolled out its bridge restore and substitute program in Philadelphia, the place a serious bridge was closed to visitors final 12 months after an inspection confirmed a essential metal connection was 75 p.c deteriorated.

This system will ship practically $27.5 billion out by system within the single largest devoted bridge funding in america because the development of the Interstate Freeway System.

“We’ll rebuild that bridge together with hundreds of different bridges in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation,” Biden stated Friday. “That’s a part of how we’re going to construct a greater America.”

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