The powerful chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, Congressman Jim Oberstar (Dem.-MN), had previously moved emergency legislation through that targets $250 million for replacement of the bridge that collapsed earlier this month. An additional $5 million will provide transit assistance to those touched by the disaster.
Oberstar says he will hold hearings on his proposal when Congress reconvenes next month. He is calling for a three-year increase of 5-cents per gallon of gas to generate an estimated $25 billion in funding.
Since it is a rare occasion when a new tax levied is repealed, there is already opposition to the proposal. President Bush is on record as opposing raises in gasoline taxes. According to the Associated Press, more than 70,000 bridges, nationwide, are structurally deficient. Estimates of the cost to repair them run as high as $188 billion.