Minnesota Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar spearheaded federal legislation on Thursday to not only provide funds to rebuild the I-35 bridge, but also improve infrastructure problems nationwide.
The Senators first called on the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to immediately release emergency relief funding for the I-35W bridge disaster. However, because states are eligible to receive up to only $100 million in emergency funds each year, Coleman and Klobuchar introduced a bill in the Senate to authorize $250 million for the reconstruction of the I-35W bridge. DFL Representative Jim Oberstar (MN-08) introduced an identical bill in the House of Representatives on Thursday as well.
Coleman and Klobuchar's call for a National Commission on Infrastructure was approved by the Senate in legislation that was created to: "Address the deterioration of much of our nation's infrastructure including our roads, bridges, drinking water systems, dams and other public works. The bill would create a National Commission on Infrastructure of the United States to analyze our nation's infrastructure and report recommendations to Congress. This group would also be charged with aiding in the nation's economic growth and ensuring the ability of the nation's infrastructure to meet current and future demands."
The Commission would be required to complete its report to Congress by February 2009, at which point a plan would be in place to decide what infrastructure legislation would be necessary for the next five, 15, 30 and 50 years.