Congressman: Bridge repairs underfunded

July 27, 2008 at 8:33 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- U.S. states are paying the price for spending money meant to repair crumbling bridges on other things, a U.S. congressman says.

U.S. House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., says states have shifted $5 billion in funds out of their bridge accounts and into other needs during the last five years. But since last year's collapse of a freeway bridge in Minneapolis, leaders realize they were wrong, ABC News reported Saturday.

While some argue states should turn to the private sector to take over bridge building and repair, Oberstar disagrees, saying infrastructure such as bridges are public necessities that can only be maintained properly by public investments.

"We need a national system," Oberstar told ABC News. "We need to maintain that national system in the public interest to sustain the mobility and economic productivity of the nation."

Oberstar made the comments as the one-year anniversary of the Aug. 1, 2007, Interstate-35W bridge collapse approaches. Thirteen people died in the collapse of the Mississippi River bridge, which was flagged as structurally deficient in 1990.

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