Brown’s proposal would help fund repair projects
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On a news conference call Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined his Bridge Investment Act, which calls for significant investment in bridge repair projects. President Trump has called for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, and in a recent New York Times interview noted that the nation’s bridges are in bad shape.
Of the 28,284 bridges in Ohio, nearly 2,000 are classified as “structurally deficient” and more than 4,500 are classified as “functionally obsolete.” The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there is a $123 billion bridge repair backlog nationally, with $30 billion of bridge repair needs identified in Ohio.
Along with his proposals, Brown included the 2016 list of bridges needing repair that were included in the National Bridge Inventory from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent list, 21 bridges in Knox County are listed as “functionally obsolete” and 39 as “structurally deficient.” However, that list is a little out of date as four bridges in the county have been replaced in the last couple years — Thayer Road, Dean Road, Hyatt Road and Green Valley Road. Also included are four state route projects completed by the Ohio Department of Transportation.
County Engineer Cameron Keaton said the four county bridge replacements were paid for out of the Ohio Bridge Replacement Program that paid 100 percent of the costs.
“That was a one-time program, but there’s been talk of another round,” Keaton said.
Keaton said the county has another four bridges closed — on Morgan, Hunter, Warren and Lafayette roads — but Hunter and Warren may not be reopened, they are in isolated areas and were almost unused before they were closed.
“I haven’t seen what Brown is proposing,” Keaton said, “but any time you talk about getting more money to local projects it will draw attention.
“The former engineer, Jim Henry, made it a point to target county bridges over major streams, so we’re in pretty good shape there.
“We have 288 bridges in the county and the count is responsible for the bridges on county and township roads,” he said.
“Our next major project will probably be the Parrott Street bridge and that’s expected to be about a $1.1 million project. We hope to do that in 2019 and we’re looking for funding now.”
“We need to make robust investments in infrastructure, so people can get to work, kids can get to school, and we can move goods and services that support Ohio jobs,” said Brown. “That’s why I introduced the Bridge Investment Act, which will put Americans to work repairing and updating Ohio bridges with American iron and steel.”
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.
News Staff Reporter Chuck Martin contributed to this story.