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While McConnell Opposes Infrastructure Investment, Major Kentucky Bridge Shuts Down Over Safety Concerns

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"While McConnell Opposes Infrastructure Investment, Major Kentucky Bridge Shuts Down Over Safety Concerns"

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Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville, KY

Yesterday, ThinkProgress published a report detailing Republican Congressional leadership’s opposition to infrastructure investments even as structural deficiencies in bridges and roadways persist in their home states. Among those is Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, where 34 percent of bridges are considered structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

The Sherman Minton Bridge, one of three major bridges spanning the Ohio River between Louisville, KY and southern Indiana, was among the Kentucky bridges listed as deficient. And last night, the Sherman Minton Bridge was closed after further deficiencies, including cracks, were found in a load-bearing part of its structure. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:

The Sherman Minton Bridge was closed late Friday afternoon and will remain shut down indefinitely after officials discovered cracks in the span.

Will Wingfield, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said officials “do not have an estimate” on how long it will take to repair and reopen the bridge, which carries Interstate 64 traffic across the Ohio River.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) ordered the closure of the bridge, as the state of Indiana maintains and operates the bridge. But the 49-year-old bridge serves as a major thoroughfare for Louisville, McConnell’s hometown and Kentucky’s largest city, carrying 50,000 people a day into or out of the city, according to Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The state of Kentucky assists in maintenance and evaluation of the bridge’s structure. While the Sherman Minton Bridge is closed, much of its regular daily traffic will be re-routed over another bridge that was already slated to be inspected for structural damage Monday.

The closure came just a day after President Obama renewed his call for Congress to invest in infrastructure improvements to stimulate the economy and address the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads, as studies have shown the nation needs $2 trillion in investment just to bring its infrastructure up to date. McConnell criticized Obama’s plan, saying it was “a re-election plan.”

But while McConnell insists that Republicans “agree that we must bring America’s infrastructure up to 21st century standards,” his recent record doesn’t show it. When progressives and Democrats argued that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be geared toward infrastructure, the GOP under McConnell’s leadership fought to focus it on tax cuts. The Senate GOP derailed a 2010 jobs plan focused largely on infrastructure investment, and if McConnell’s post-speech rhetoric is to be believed, he will be at the forefront of the Republican Party’s opposition to this plan too.

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