"We spent approximately $20-billion of that money on pork barrel, earmark projects. Maybe if we had done it right, maybe some of that money would have gone to inspect those bridges and other bridges across the country."

John McCain on Saturday, August 4th, 2007 in a comment to a reporter.


Right on bridge repairs

Responding to the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Sen. John McCain said that if less money had been spent on earmarked projects in highway reauthorization bills, then more money could be spent on bridge repairs.

McCain is right. Bridge repair and bridge construction are authorized in the same bill. But of course, members of Congress would prefer to cut ribbons on new projects rather than see money go to less sexy repair projects.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., recently unveiled a new plan to invest $65-billion immediately in replacing or repairing bridges. Rather than redirecting money in the highway bill, Oberstar has proposed establishing a dedicated fund for bridge repair. But raising that $65-billion within the federal budget would be a huge problem.