Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) traveled to Memphis on Thursday to tour the damaged I-40 bridge and met with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to discuss infrastructure spending to meet the logistical needs of Tennessee.
“The I-40 bridge closure affects not only Memphis and the Mid-South region, it affects the entire nation. I-40 is a coast-to-coast federal interstate highway crossing our nation from North Carolina to California,” Blackburn described in a statement. “This bridge situation deserves to have the full and immediate attention of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Biden administration.”
President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan doesn’t allow for either Shelby County or Memphis to use their $343 million in federal funds to repair the broken Memphis bridge. The Hernando de Soto bridge, or I-40 bridge, has been closed to traffic since May 12 due to a large crack in one of its structural beams. As The Tennessee Star reported, Governor Bill Lee visited the bridge on Tuesday to review repair plans. After his visit, Lee criticized Biden’s plan for being marketed as an infrastructure plan but not assisting in actual infrastructure.
“While Congress ponders the definition of infrastructure, we call upon the federal government to prioritize the safety of actual roads and bridges. Although the American Rescue Plan designated $182M to Shelby Co. & $161M to Memphis, funds are prohibited from being spent on road or bridge infrastructure,” said Lee. “The American Jobs Plan, touted as an infrastructure plan, would spend $2T w/ a mere 5.6 percent dedicated to roads & bridges.”