Park conservationist lashes out at Congress after partial bridge closure

Laura Loomis, the National Parks Conservation Association's deputy vice president for government affairs, released a statement on Tuesday concerning the partial closure of the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., due to structural deficiencies.

During the last regular biennial inspection of the bridge, it was deemed structurally deficient and declared unsafe for use.

The bridge falls under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service, and bridge repairs would cost $244 million.

"The partial closure of the Memorial Bridge, which is managed by the National Park Service (NPS), underscores the increasingly decrepit roads, bridges and tunnels within our National Park System," Loomis said. "While national parks need $11.5 billion worth of overdue transportation and other maintenance repairs, Congress shamefully and irresponsibly continues to cut vital funding for national parks."

The NPS is granted $240 million in infrastructure funding annually from the Federal Highway Trust Fund. In March, the service released a complete list of needed transportation and other maintenance projects that were being deferred due to funding cuts. To address all of the issues, the NPS would need $11.5 billion, and over half of that would be needed for transportation repairs alone.

"Instead of hiding behind budget gimmicks and corroding excuses, Congress should mark the National Park System’s 100th anniversary by ensuring our parks, and their roads and bridges, are safe for everyone and have the resources to thrive,” Loomis said.