Foxx to visit shut down bridge amid highway funding fight

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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is planning to visit a heavily-traveled Delaware interstate bridge that has been shut down for nearly two weeks because of a dangerous construction flaw. 

The bridge, which carries Delaware’s Interstate 495 across the state’s Christina River, was closed on June 2 when engineers discovered it was not level. 

The I-495 bridge carries approximately 90,000 vehicles per day. Delaware officials have said that bridge will likely be closed until Labor Day. 

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Foxx is scheduled to visit the structure with Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) on Friday while he is the middle of pushing lawmakers to approve a new round of transportation funding, DOT officials said. 

Lawmakers are scrambling to find a way to close a shortfall in transportation funding that is estimated to be as high as $15 billion before the Department of Transportation runs out of money for its Highway Trust Fund, which has been predicted to occur as August without congressional action. 

Foxx and President Obama has recommended that lawmakers use approximately $150 billion from closing corporate tax loopholes to help pay for a new four-year, $302 billion transportation bill. 

The corporate tax reform proposal is considered unlikely to be approved and lawmakers in both chambers have begun exploring other funding options, however. 

The traditional source for transportation funding is revenue that is collected by the federal gas tax, which is currently 18.4 cents per gallon. The tax only brings is about $34 billion per year, however, and the current level of transportation spending infrastructure advocates want lawmakers to maintain is about $50 billion annually.

Foxx said this week that whatever funding option Congress choices should be one that provides enough money for a long-term transportation bill. 

"We've had 27 Band-Aids over the last several years: Eighteen continuing resolutions in transportation and nine extensions," the DOT chief told reporters after a meeting with House Democrats on Tuesday. 

"A 28th and 29th short-term measure will be more of the same for state and local governments,” Foxx continued. “It will not give them the ability to make long-term plans."

 

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