WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 29, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who serves as Ranking Member of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and will introduce the Save Our National Parks Transportation Act on Monday, today released a statement following the National Park Service (NPS) announcement of weight restrictions and lane closures on the Arlington Memorial Bridge scheduled to begin tomorrow, Friday, May 29.
“With the closure of lanes and bans on Metro, tour, and other buses on the Arlington Memorial Bridge, this bridge has become a national symbol of the crisis facing the nation’s most important infrastructure, particularly those bridges and roads that must be totally funded by the federal government and are not part of any state allocation. Starting tomorrow, one lane and four feet of sidewalk will be closed in each direction on Memorial Bridge. In a few weeks, vehicles weighing more than 10 tons will be prohibited on the bridge. This ban includes Metro buses, which are as necessary as Metro trains for thousands of federal and other employees, as well as tour buses, which must be rerouted. Yet, this bridge is the major route also to Arlington Cemetery, the National Mall, key historic sites in the District of Columbia and major federal buildings. With a cost of up to $250 million to replace the bridge, it is no wonder that NPS is unable to even begin this vital work on the bridge when it only receives $240 million for its transportation projects nationwide. My staff has been inside of the bridge and witnessed the significant deterioration of a bridge that has already exceeded its lifespan. There are thousands more in the federal portfolio that simply do not have the national profile of the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
“Therefore, when Congress returns on Monday, I will introduce the Save Our National Parks Transportation Act. Roads and bridges like the Memorial Bridge have become federal orphans. They are nobody’s specific responsibility, but the major traffic flow nationwide and access too to priceless assets located in the states and D.C. make them everybody’s business. The bill authorizes $460 million a year for NPS for the federal lands transportation program for fiscal years 2016 to 2021, and establishes a program called the Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Transportation Project program, funded at $150 million each fiscal year from 2016 to 2021. This funding still leaves federal lands transportation at best a step-child in infrastructure funding. However, it would begin to erase the shameful neglect of federal transportation infrastructure.
“NPS is responsible for maintaining federal transportation assets nationwide that provide access to our nation’s parks and national monuments, including roads, bridges, parking lots and buses. Assets like Arlington Memorial Bridge are critical regional transportation corridors and their condition facilitates traffic flows in districts across the country. There is no doubt about the nationwide needs – the NPS has a deferred maintenance backlog of $11.5 billion. I will be working with my congressional colleagues to ensure that we can fund our critical infrastructure projects.”