Senate Committee Passes Portman, Brown Bill That Could Help Repair Nationally-Significant Bridges, Such as Brent Spence Bridge

Portman and Brown’s Bill Could Also Provide Funding for Regionally-Important Bridges Like Western Hills Viaduct

July 30, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed a highway package that includes U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) Bridge Investment Act, which establishes a competitive grant program to assist the repair and replacement of deficient and outdated bridges and ease the national bridge repair backlog. 

  • Portman and Brown’s bill included language which set aside funding that could help rehabilitate and replace nationally significant large bridges like the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati.  Portman and Brown’s bill also includes funding that could help repair regionally-important bridges like the Western Hills Viaduct.
  • These large projects would be eligible to apply for multiyear grant agreements that provide grant money in installment payments, which allow more large-scale projects to receive funding. 

“I’m glad that the Bridge Investment Act will be included in the highway bill because this bipartisan legislation will get us that much closer towards a safe and modern replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge,” said Senator Portman.

“This package is an important step Congress can take right now that could provide important resources toward the Brent Spence Bridge project,” said Senator Brown. “We still have a long way to go, but I look forward to working with local, state and federal partners as we continue fighting for Brent Spence, for Western Hills Viaduct and for Cincinnati and continue pushing to get this bill to the Senate floor and passed into law.”

The highway package passed today includes $3.265 billion to fund the Senators’ bipartisan, bridge bill over the next five fiscal years, of which half of the funding is dedicated to large projects, like the Brent Spence.  The program requires all projects funded by the grants to use American-made steel and iron. In addition to the $3.265 billion provided to fund the grant program initially, the bill authorizes an additional $3.265 billion that could be provided to fund the new bridge program in the future through the annual appropriations process. 

Additional Bridge Investment Act provisions included in the EPW package would:

  • 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 endorsed these provisions.