WASHINGTON, D.C. – Time is running out for the Senate to approve a solution for the dwindling Highway Trust Fund (HTF).
An empty fund could result in the halt of thousands of construction projects across the country that could result in unsafe roads and bridges.
“It’s a real tragedy,” said John Robert Smith, Chairman of Transportation for America.
If the Senate doesn’t act soon, Louisiana could lose up to $749 million in federal funding in 2015. Shreveport, alone, could lose up to $11 million, according to Smith.
Smith says there are 60-thousand bridges in the United States that are currently rated structurally deficient.
So, what does this actually mean?
Bridges have three primary components: the deck, the superstructure and the substructure.
The bridges are inspected and given a rating out of 10. If any one of the three main parts receives a score of 4 or lower, then the bridge is rated structurally deficient.
There are nearly 20 bridges that are rated structurally deficient within a 10-mile radius of Shreveport.
“We don’t have enough money to fix all of these issues today let alone in the future,” Smith said.
“If we don’t find a solution soon then transportation as we know it would just stop and every day would be like a huge parking lot,” he added.
Louisiana is ranked 13th in the country with the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges at 13.6-percent, according to a 2013 study by Transportation for America.
On Monday, the House passed a short-term bill that only extends the Highway program through May 2015.
Senator David Vitter (R, LA) said that creating a long-term solution is still the top priority.
“This is a positive short-term effort to prevent the highway trust fund from going broke,” Sen. Vitter said in a recent press release.
“But, I’ll remain focused on a long-term reauthorization bill that invests in rural areas, expands flexibility for state and local governments, and improves safety.” Sen. Vitter added.