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Time to pony up for road repair

A collapsed section of the I35-W bridge in Minneapolis, Minn.

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: President Bush will be in Minneapolis today for a briefing on the I-35 bridge collapse. Congress has already authorized $250 million to replace the bridge, and there are calls for more federal money for bridge repair around the country. The question is, where would the money come from? Jeremy Hobson reports.


Jeremy Hobson: The collapse earlier this month of the I-35 bridge has focused attention the on the nation's ailing infrastructure.

Congress plans to take up the issue next month, says Minnesota Democrat Jim Oberstar, who chairs the House transportation and infrastructure committee.

Rep. Jim Oberstar: There are 73,000 structurally-deficient bridges on the national highway system. Those bridges need to be repaired.

Oberstar wants to raise the federal gas tax by 5 cents to pay for bridge upkeep, but a gas tax hike is a tough sell with President Bush and even some Democrats in Congress.

Tolls and sales of highways to private companies are the other big options for raising transportation funds. Randall O'Toole at the Cato Institute opposes a gas tax hike and favors more toll roads.

Randall O'Toole: A toll is a user fee, and I think user fees work better than taxes.

However the money is raised, estimates are it'll cost billions to repair the nation's bridges.

In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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