WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Inhofe said Thursday that lawmakers need to look at all of the nation's transportation needs and not just at devoting more resources to bridge repair.
At a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said Oklahoma had the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges and called the problem "huge.” But, he said, he was "concerned about the call for dramatic increases in spending on bridges. We need to look at the entire picture.” Inhofe spoke at the second congressional hearing this month about the Aug. 1 bridge collapse in Minnesota and the state of the nation's bridges. At a House hearing two weeks ago, some lawmakers called for an increase in the federal gas tax to fund a dedicated effort to repairing bridges. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to consider that legislation next month. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said at the House hearing and again on Thursday that better funding priorities were needed, not higher taxes. "Underinvestment is not causing the (transportation) network to under-perform,” she said.