WASHINGTON – A week after a deadly bridge collapse in Minneapolis, President Bush dismissed Thursday raising the federal gasoline tax to repair the nation’s bridges at least until Congress changes the way it spends highway money. The Democratic chairman of the House Transportation Committee proposed a 5-cent increase in the 18.3 cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax to establish a new trust fund for repairing or replacing structurally deficient highway bridges. More than 70,000 of the nation’s bridges are rated structurally deficient, including the bridge that collapsed over the Mississippi River last Wednesday. The American Society of Civil Engineers says repairing them all would require spending at least $9.4 billion a year for 20 years. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., says his tax-increase proposal would raise about $25 billion over three years.
FORBES: Read My Lips, ‘No New Bridges’
ASSOCIATED PRESS: MINNEAPOLIS – Searchers found two more bodies Thursday in the wreckage of the interstate bridge, bringing the death toll to seven with at least six missing more than a week after the bridge crumbled into the Mississippi River, authorities said. Crews have been searching the site for the past week for eight people missing and presumed dead in the Aug. 1 collapse. Among the eight are a pregnant nursing student and her 2-year-old daughter, a construction worker nicknamed “Jolly,” and a former missionary who had been on his way to meet a friend for dinner.
NOTE: One out of every four bridges in the United States is rated ‘structurally deficient’ or in need of repair. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers repairing ALL the nation’s bridges would cost roughly $9.4 billion a year for 20 years — or roughly $188 billion. In four years the U.S. government has spent $450 billion funding the war in Iraq.