Local congressman Jared Huffman is calling for emergency funding to fix Bay Area bridges. Huffman spoke at a public forum on transportation infrastructure today in San Rafael.
The call comes just a week after the Investigative Unit exposed 472 bridges and on-ramps in the Bay Area that are in need of replacement or repair. The bridges were identified by Department of Transportation engineers as “structurally deficient.”
“There’s obviously a critical role congress needs to play right now,” Congressman Huffman told the Investigative Unit. “With the federal Highway Trust Fund about to go insolvent in less than 30 days, we have to step up and fix that.”
The Highway Trust Fund, which funds transportation projects across the United States, is close to being insolvent, which could interrupt major transportation projects slated to start this summer. California depends on the Highway Trust fund for nearly half of its state transportation budget, according to the Congressman’s office.
Huffman wants Congress to pass a short-term fix in order to stabilize the fund and keep current projects from coming to a standstill.
“We’ve got to avoid that. But we can’t make it too long of an extension. Congress has been kicking this can down the road for too long,” Huffman said. “I’m cautiously hopeful. We have to make sure Congress does its part by keeping the Highway Trust Fund solvent.”
Huffman also is proposing a new bill to fund bridge and highway repair that would cover the next six years.
In the meantime, Huffman says says there are private sector projects in the works to assist with improvements.
“A lot of the solutions are not waiting for Congress,” Huffman said. “We’ve got private sector innovators who are coming up with incredibly forward-thinking ways to solve transportation problems. They just need collaboration and support and policies that promote them.”
Right now the notion of better funding bridge repairis getting support from both sides of the political aisle, but whether it actually passes congress remains to be seen.
Earlier this month, Caltrans officials told the Investigative Unit that it would take 57 billion dollars just to fix all the problematic bridges we found in our report.