UPDATE 1-US House passes bill to repair "deficient" bridges
(Adds Oberstar's comments, state allocations)
WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) - Nearly a year after a deadly bridge collapse in Minnesota, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $1 billion bill on Thursday mandating inspections and repairs of federal bridges.
The bill would distribute $1 billion in fiscal year 2009 to replace and repair highway bridges deemed "structurally deficient." It would also call for detailed inspections of federal bridges and a list of those in most need of improvement.
The funds would be distributed to the states, and they would prioritize the bridges for repair. New York and California would receive the largest amounts, $100 million each, according to an analysis from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act passed the House by a vote of 367-55, but it has no corresponding bill in the Senate and it was not clear Thursday whether the Senate would take up the House legislation. Both chambers of Congress must pass a bill to send to the president to sign into law.
The legislation was introduced in October 2007 by Rep. James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat.
On Aug. 1, the eight-lane bridge on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed during rush hour, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. The bridge had been labeled "structurally deficient" by the Department of Transportation.
In his floor statement before the vote on the bill, Oberstar said, "The tragic collapse of the I-35W Bridge demonstrates the need to make a commitment to invest in the maintenance and reconstruction of our nation's infrastructure. Many facilities are being stretched to the limit of their design life and beyond." (Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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