House Dems introduce bill to spend $5.5 billion on bridges

The top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE, said the I-5 bridge collapse should reignite debate about transportation funding in Washington.

“The nightmarish scene we witnessed in Washington State last month with the collapse of the I-5 Bridge was yet another dramatic wakeup call on the state of American infrastructure,” Rahall said in a statement.

“Congress simply cannot keep hitting the snooze button when it comes to needed investment in our nation’s bridges or think that these aging structures can be rehabilitated with rhetoric," Rahall continued. "Providing the means for safe and reliable transportation is one of the core functions of our government and this legislation helps fulfill that responsibility.”

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has attributed the collapse to the oversized truck striking a key support structure in its preliminary reports.

However, since the late May accident, Democrats and transportation advocates have seized upon the incident to argue that more infrastructure funding is needed.

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.