By Mike Lindblom, June 13, 2013, Seattle Times
The U.S. Department of Transportation has released $15.6 million from an emergency fund to repair the broken I-5 Skagit River bridge.
The official figure was announced Thursday morning by Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Reps. Rick Larsen and Suzan DeBene.
The federal aid is no surprise, having been discussed soon after the bridge collapsed on May 23.
“October 1 is our deadline,” for the permanent span to be installed, said Victor Mendez, federal highways administrator, speaking at a hearing on “crumbling infrastructure,” chaired by Murray and Susan Collins, R-Maine. Already, contractors are installing a military-style temporary bridge that is expected to open next week. Speeds will be restricted to 35 mph, said Mendez.
Murray’s hearing was meant to publicize the mediocre condition of U.S. roads and bridges, and shortfalls in federal funding.
It would take some $240 billion to replace every bridge that rated as deficient, said Polly Tottenberg, undersecretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The agency would like to bolster the national highway fund using money saved from the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, she said. Collins pointed out, however, that other agencies and interests want the same money.