Senators seek funds for bridge repair

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(Host) U.S. senators want to get more money to the states to fix bridges.


Just six weeks after a bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed in Minnesota, the Senate has voted to boost spending on bridges by $1 billion.


The money would be divided up among all 50 states – and Vermont’s share would be a little more than $7 million.


Spokesman John Zicconi says the Vermont Transportation Agency could replace or rehabilitate a handful of bridges with that amount of money.


(Zicconi) “Typically in any budget that we have in any given year, we repair or replace two interstate bridges — 10 to 15 bridges on the state highway system and 10 to 15 town highway bridges. So this would allow us to do anywhere from two to maybe four more or a couple and some additional maintenance on certain bridges.”


(Host) States usually are required to pay as much as 20% of a bridge project.


Zicconi says the state is still preparing its budget for next year and would find the money it needs if federal funding comes through.


(Zicconi) “It’s still a long way from seeing this money. We would welcome any help the federal government could give us to help repair, replace or maintain Vermont’s bridges. We’ll keep an eye on it and we’ll see where it goes.”


(Host) The Senate endorsed the increased spending by a wide margin, but President Bush has threatened to veto the underlying bill. That’s because it includes $4 billion more than he wants to spend.

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