House Republican divide keeps lid on US highway projects

Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:00am GMT
 

* A reluctance to spend billions to create thousands of jobs

* Major crossing near Speaker Boehner's Ohio district in limbo

* Little progress seen on bill before Nov. 6 election

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, April 25 (Reuters) - Nearly every day, rush-hour traffic backs up for miles on both ends of the overburdened Brent Spence Bridge, which spans the Ohio River and links Cincinnati with its suburbs in Kentucky.

The bridge, one of the busiest in the U.S. interstate system, has been dubbed "functionally obsolete" by the federal government because its narrow four lanes on each level - originally designed as three lanes - create massive bottlenecks for traffic.

For commuters and businesses desperate for an improved crossing, the good news is that they have a powerful friend in Congress: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican whose district includes Cincinnati suburbs.

But a $2.4 billion plan to replace the Interstate 71/75 bridge has gotten little help from Boehner's House of Representatives, which abandoned efforts to pass long-term federal highway funding in favor of two 90-day extensions, the second of which passed last week.

In the process, the highway bill has become a symbol of Boehner's frustrations in dealing with budget-conscious Republicans allied with the Tea Party movement.   Continued...

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