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Himes Calls for More Federal Aid for State Bridges

WESTPORT, Conn. – A third of Connecticut's bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, including the Interstate 95 overpass in Westport’s Saugatuck section. That’s why U.S. Reps. Jim Himes, D-4th District, and Chris Murphy, D-5th District, are calling for long-term federal transportation aid.

“With bridges crumbling and highways choked with congestion, we need the certainty and safety that long-term transportation funding will provide. But the transportation legislation up for consideration in Congress right now will only exacerbate the problem,” Himes said Monday in Westport, standing near the Saugatuck Bridge.

“We need a forward-thinking transportation bill that will put people back to work improving our mass transit systems and rebuilding our roads, bridges, and airports,” he added.

Of Connecticut’s 5,250 bridges, a total of 1,779, or 34 percent, have problems, they said.

It has been more than two years since America's transportation aid expired, and the most recent six-month extension expires March 31, Himes and Murphy said.

A bill that would cut transportation in 45 states, including Connecticut, is the only transportation legislation before Congress. This bill reduces money for clean transportation options, circumvents important environmental laws and misguidedly links transportation aid to expanded oil drilling, its critics say.

“House leadership has pushed a bill that would make it harder for people to get to work, undermine the public transportation system that is so critical to the state’s economy and threaten important safety programs,” said Steven Higashide of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, who joined Himes and Murphy. “Connecticut needs a 21st-century bill that supports smart growth and a balanced transportation network. This isn't it.”

Himes and Murphy said investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure will not only improve safety and efficiency, but create thousands of jobs.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each $1 billion in federal highway investment, plus the state match, supports 34,000 jobs. Every dollar that taxpayers invest in public transportation generates about $6 in economic returns, according to a American Public Transportation Association study.

“Our roads and bridges need critical improvements and repairs, and a full one-third of construction and road workers are out of work,” Murphy said. “This should be a no-brainer for Congress — we can create jobs now by making smart investments in our transportation infrastructure.”

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