Mr. SIRES. Madam Speaker, I rise today to bring attention to the great need to update our Nation's infrastructure and, in particular, bridges. Bridges play a vital role in moving people and goods, and far too many of our bridges are falling into a state of disrepair.
Our Nation has a total of 600,000 bridges, with over 65,000 being deemed deficient. That means 11 1/2 percent of our Nation's bridges are considered deficient and require significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement. In the New Jersey portion of New York City metropolitan area, over 8 million vehicles cross a deficient bridge every day.
The infrastructure in the United States is crumbling, and the backlog of deficient bridges is growing. Congress has not been able to pass a long-term transportation funding bill for 2 years. We are still working on a fiscal year 2012 budget that will provide States with important transportation funding.
This year the construction industry has been suffering from unemployment rates of up to 20 percent. Investing in bridges will create jobs today, keep Americans safe, and ensure economic development for the future.
Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to pass legislation to strengthen our transportation infrastructure and put people back to work.