Monumental Issues: Talking Infrastructure with Ed Mortimer

When thinking of the next bridge to cross in our “Monumental Issues” tour of the nation’s capital, we had a thought: How about an actual bridge?

The Memorial Bridge, the iconic gateway into Washington, D.C., has been under repair for more than a year – and that is a good thing. One year ago, federal officials closed two of the bridge’s six lanes after inspections revealed that the 83-year-old bridge’s support beams are now corroding faster than expected and “no longer meet load-bearing standards.”

Each bridge fixed is a step in the right direction, but there are tens of thousands of bridges in the United States in need of repair. Allowing our nation’s infrastructure to continue to deteriorate is not an option. It will cost jobs, stunt economic growth, reduce safety, and put us further behind our global competitors.

“This bridge is one of 58,000 bridges – or almost 10 percent of our nation’s bridges around the country – that is structurally deficient,” notes Ed Mortimer, the Chamber’s executive director of Transportation Infrastructure. “While Congress did pass a five-year, long-term authorization bill, the job is not done.”

He adds: “We need to continue to work with federal, state, and local stakeholders and bring in the private sector to come up with long-term sustainable funding solutions to make sure that we don’t have bridges like this in the United States, to make sure that we have an infrastructure that our children and grandchildren can be proud of, and that we are able to compete and win in the 21st century economy.”

It’s time to stop thinking about infrastructure as a problem but as an opportunity for bipartisan agreement to invest wisely and carefully in our most critical needs.

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