At closed bridge, Rand Paul pushes for funding priority road projects, not 'optionals'

09/23/2011 05:11 PM

LOUISVILLE — Now is the time to change how the federal government decides how to fund bridge and road projects, Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul said Friday in front of the closed Sherman Minton Bridge.

Paul has proposed an emergency funding bill that would eliminate funding for what Paul called “optional projects” and stop lawmakers from deciding priority of funding based on their seniority.

Paul said that way the bridges and roads that need fixing and building most get done. And it decided would be based on the priority list drafted by the federal highway administrator, Paul said.

He made the comments after touring the closed Sherman Minton Bridge with Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The bridge — which connects New Albany, Ind., and Louisville along I-64 — has been shut down for two weeks after inspectors found cracks in steel beams. Indiana officials today announced it didn’t appear that a new bridge was necessary, but it’s unclear how long it will take to fix.

While LaHood touted President Barack Obama’s jobs plan that includes money for infrastructure, Paul said Obama’s plan was too partisan to be passed in Congress.

But Paul, a freshman senator from Bowling Green, agreed with his Democratic colleagues who also attended that the press conference Friday that the most important objective was to fix and reopen the bridge.

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