WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) - Nearly a year after a deadly bridge collapse in Minnesota, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1 billion bill on Thursday mandating inspections and repairs of federal bridges.
The proposed National Highway Bridge Reconstruction Act would distribute $1 billion in fiscal year 2009 to replace and repair highway bridges deemed "structurally deficient." It would also call for detailed inspections of federal bridges and a list of those in most need of improvement.
See (link) for full Reuters story.
The House-approved bill includes an amendment introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) that calls for a cost-benefit study on using carbon fiber composite materials to replace steel in bridge replacement projects.
Below is the press release from Rep. Miller's office.
Lawrence Tech Professor Nabil Grace is a leading authority on the use of carbon fiber and other composite materials to replace steel in bridge construction. For more than a decade he has been conducting research and tests on these materials at Lawrence Tech, where he is chairman of the Department of Civil Engineering and director of the Center for Innovative Materials Research (CIMR).
Grace can provide information and comment about this amendment that was passed Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives. He can be reached on his cell phone at 248-495-6462 all day Friday and at his office phone in the afternoon at 248-204-2556.
Attached is a press release from this spring that provides background on CIMR.
REP. MILLER VOTES FOR MICHIGAN ROADWAYS
WASHINGTON, DC (July 24, 2008) -- Congresswoman Candice Miller, MI-10, has cast important votes in the U.S. House of Representatives on bills that will steer billions of dollars to a federal road repair fund and direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to study new bridge construction techniques currently used in Michigan.
Rep. Miller successfully sponsored an amendment to the National Highway Bridge Reconstruction Act which directs the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study on the cost benefit of using carbon fiber composite materials in bridge replacement projects.
"In Michigan we like to think we are on the leading edge of all kinds of technology, and carbon fiber is another product we are pioneering," Miller said. "All of the world's great economies were based on strong transportation grids. With this type of investment and technology, we are guaranteeing Michigan and the United States are well positioned to improve infrastructure in the years to come."
Carbon fiber reinforced polymer is sturdier, less susceptible to corrosion and more durable than steel. The Michigan Department of Transportation used carbon fiber rods developed by Lawrence Technological University in Southfield to reinforce concrete in Bridge Street Bridge Project in Southfield and plans to use it three more projects in the next two years
"This is a vital step in providing key findings for the research, development and deployment of innovative, high-strength bridge technology designed to replace the 72,264 structurally deficient and 81,257 functionally obsolete bridges throughout the United States," said Lewis N. Walker, president of Lawrence Technological University.
The amendment and the bill were approved Thursday 367-55 by the U.S. House of Representatives and now go to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
If approved by the Senate, and signed by the President, the Department of Transportation has 180 days to report their findings to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Rep. Miller also voted Wednesday to transfer $8 billion into the federal Highway Trust Fund, which would have put thousands of construction jobs in jeopardy had the bill not passed.
"Michigan's federal highway funds would have been cut by $245 million and resulted in a loss of 8,500 jobs. The impact nationally would rival that amount," said Miller, of the possible cut in road funding. "This vote came at a unique time in history when you have China and other countries investing in transportation and infrastructure. Failure to pass this bill would have derailed our efforts to keep pace and put people out of work."
The bill now goes to the Senate, and if approved, it will go to the President who has threatened a veto.
Rep. Miller's votes for Michigan roadways came just days after a report was released by the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation Funding which called for Michigan to double its spending on roads and bridges to stop them from deteriorating and becoming a safety issue.
Edward L. Cardenas
Congresswoman Candice Miller (MI-10)