Washington, D.C. — Citing a need to upgrade and update our roads and bridges, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced legislation that will both maintain public safety and provide businesses and consumers with the infrastructure necessary for a 21st century economy. The Strengthen and Fortify Existing Bridges Act of 2014 (SAFE Bridges Act) would establish a program to provide funding specifically dedicated to repair and replace aging and deteriorating bridges.
“The condition of our bridges is unacceptable,” Shaheen said. “Bridges in need of repair or unable to sustain the weight of heavy trucks and emergency vehicles impact jobs and the economy and put public safety at risk. My plan will help repair and replace New Hampshire bridges that are currently substandard and at the same time put Granite Staters to work.”
In New Hampshire nearly 15 percent of the state’s 2,429 bridges are considered structurally deficient and more than 18 percent are considered functionally obsolete, totaling nearly one-third of New Hampshire’s bridges. Nationally, one-quarter of all bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete as determined by Federal Highway Administration standards. The SAFE Bridges Act would increase the amount of funds the federal government dedicates to states for bridge repair by 50 percent to $5.5 billion over two years.
Last year, Shaheen visited Sewalls Falls Road Bridge in Concord to call for repairs to the nearly 100 year old structure. The condition of the bridge has limited access to emergency vehicles subjecting some Concord residents to extended emergency response times. On average more than 2 million vehicles travel over bridges that are rated structurally deficient every day in New Hampshire.
The SAFE Bridges Act, which is the companion to House legislation introduced by Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV), has already been endorsed by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, the National Infrastructure Alliance, Transportation for America, the AFL-CIO, the Building and Construction Trades, and the American Highway Users Alliance.