Key Senate Panel Approves Bill to Pay Bridge Bills

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Biden and Tom Carper today announced that they have successfully secured language in a key Senate Appropriations bill that will provide federal funds to pay for the operation and upkeep of the State Route 1 Bridge. In addition, the bill bars the Army Corps of Engineers from closing or removing the St. Georges Bridge for another year. This marks the second consecutive year the Senators have been successful in securing these crucial provisions. This measure was included as a safeguard to ensure the bridges will remain operational and under the care of the Army Corps of Engineers while the Senators continue to negotiate for a more permanent solution. “Until we can get a permanent resolution to this issue, we will continue to fight the yearly battles that keep the bridges up and operational for another year and ensure the Army Corps of Engineers lives up to their responsibilities,” said Senator Biden. “We’re not at the finish line yet, but we’re on our way.” “The Army Corps must keep its commitment to Delaware. As the only state in the nation completely bisected by a man-made body of water, Delaware already pays a price for the C & D Canal. Our state should not have to pay the upkeep for the bridges that cross it. Clearly, the Senate agrees,” said Senator Carper. The fiscal year 2003 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee last night, provides funds for routine operation and maintenance activities for the SR 1 Bridge between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2003. The costs include electric lighting and associated late fees, power sweeping, drainage cleaning, snow removal, surface deicing, and periodic bridge inspections. The bill also directs the Army Corps of Engineers to initiate necessary repairs to the SR 1 Bridge once repair recommendations from the bridge inspections are received. The bill also includes language that states that none of the funds made available in fiscal year 2002 may be used to carry out any activity relating to closure or removal of the St. Georges Bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway, Delaware River to Chesapeake Bay, Delaware and Maryland.