Collapsed Washington state bridge set to reopen

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The collapse of the I-5 bridge the week before Memorial Day reignited a long simmering debate in Washington over the amount of money Congress spends each year on roads and bridges.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has attributed the collapse to an oversized truck striking a key support structure in preliminary reports, but Larsen and other transportation advocates said the accident showed more infrastructure funding was needed.

Larsen said in speech on the House floor earlier this month that the bridge collapse showed Congress should appropriate more money for transportation projects because "we can’t keep waiting until [bridges] crumble into the water below."

"We know how to build safe bridges," Larsen said in his floor speech. "There are thousands of civil engineers devoting their lives today to building good structures that don’t fall down. But we need to pay for them. We need to maintain our bridges until they are old, and then we need to replace them."

The current measure that contains federal transportation appropriations spends about $54 billion per year on road and transit projects. Transportation advocates have argued that the amount is barely enough to maintain the current system, let alone make improvements they say could have prevented the Washington state bridge collapse.