Congress Spends $130,000 Per Foot on Rebuilding Minneapolis' I-35 Bridge
A Quarter-Billion Dollars Goes to Repair a 1/3-Mile, 64-Foot-High Bridge
August 5, 2007
Before adjourning for its August recess early Sunday, Congress quickly passed a bill spending $250 million to repair the 1,907-foot I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an expenditure of about $130,000 per foot. This is more than three times the cost-per-foot of Alaska's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere."
Under the bill, the federal government will bear the full cost of I-35 repairs. The quarter-billion-dollar spending measure raced through Congress in about two days.
According to the Department of Transportation, the collapsed I-35 bridge was 1,907 feet long (just over one-third of a mile) and rose 64 feet above the Mississippi River. Two-hundred fifty million dollars amounts to about $130,000 per foot to rebuild the bridge.
"All Americans sympathize with the families who lost loved ones last week," said Jim Harper, Founder and Webmaster of WashingtonWatch.com, "but as taxpayers and citizens we have to be aware of what Congress does with our money. A quarter-billion dollars for this bridge may be high considering all of our country's needs and priorities."
Congressional spending on the I-35 bridge compares poorly to the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," a planned span in Alaska as long as the Golden Gate Bridge (8,981 feet) and as high as the Brooklyn Bridge (199 feet). Its price of about $315,000,000 works out to about $35,000 per foot.
"The good news is that the I-35 bridge is a bridge to somewhere," Harper said, "but it could probably be rebuilt for under a hundred million. The I-35 bridge is a third of the height of the Bridge to Nowhere but three times the cost per foot."
According to WashingtonWatch.com calculations, the bridge repair bill passed by Congress costs every family in the United States a little over $2.25. Over 160,000 bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete as of 2003, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
WashingtonWatch.com uses government predictions about the costs or savings from proposed laws to calculate the significance to average Americans - in dollars and cents - of proposed changes to the nation's policies. The estimate for this bill was done by WashingtonWatch.com using a typical pattern of outlays for bills of this type. More information about WashingtonWatch.com is available on the "about" page of the Web site.