Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in support of increased funding for infrastructure. He said infrastructure investments within the U.S. are vital to continue to provide safe and efficient means for travel and commerce.
Presently, 66,749 bridges in the U.S. are deemed structurally deficient, with more than 1,700 of these bridges located in Erie and Niagara counties alone. Significant investment is essential to make current infrastructure safe and efficient for commerce; however, federal investments in America's roads and bridges are falling significantly short of the need, he said.
"Mr. Speaker, on Monday, a bridge collapsed in Cincinnati, Ohio, killing one person and injuring another. This tragedy calls to mind the collapse of the Schoharie Creek Bridge in New York in 1987, which killed 10 people, and the collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis in 2007, which left 13 dead," Higgins said. "I don't know if more transportation funding would have prevented these collapses. But I do know that every second of every day seven cars drive on a bridge that is structurally deficient.
"There are 69,000 structurally deficient bridges in the nation. There are over 99 structurally deficient bridges in Western New York alone. These numbers are unacceptable.
"Congress is failing the American people by failing to address this. Last night we heard from the president a plan to increase funding for infrastructure. That is a start, but I say we can - and must - do more, and I encourage my colleagues to pass an infrastructure bill that is large enough to address the nation's needs."
Higgins is a longtime advocate for increased funding for infrastructure. He previously introduced the Nation Building Here at Home Act, which called for a $1.2 trillion investment in U.S. infrastructure over the next five years. An investment of this level has the potential to create more than 27 million jobs through the projects and multiplier effects.
Locally, the congressman supported and secured funding for projects such as the reconstruction of Ohio Street, improvements to Buffalo Avenue in Niagara Falls, construction on the Ferry Street bridge and Fillmore Avenue, and development of the "Cars Sharing Main Street" project scheduled to open this week.