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As Congress Mulls Infrastructure Spending, Wyden And Others Stump For Bonds

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Brian Bull
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KLCC

City, state, and county officials gathered near I5’s Wilhamut Bridge Tuesday to make the case for bonds-based infrastructure funding. 

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden has touted the revival of Build America Bonds as a feasible, bipartisan-backed option for funding bridge construction like the one serving as a backdrop at the Oregon Democrat’s press conference.

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC
The Wilhamut Bridge, which carries I5 over the Willamette River near Eugene-Springfield.  

“This bridge was built with Build America Bonds, that I was able to get into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” Wyden said to reporters. “But fast forward now to 12 years later, and we’re at a pivot point in our country’s economy again, working once more to get out of the deep debt driven - this time - by public health crisis.”

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Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
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KLCC
Eugene City Councilor Jennifer Yeh (Ward 4), at the June 1, 2021 press conference.

Those on hand included Jennifer Yeh, Eugene City Councilor for Ward 4.  She said local infrastructure can greatly benefit from what she called a “once in a generational” opportunity.

“Currently our engineers have identified 31 bridges that are in need of seismic retrofitting. So just think of what is needed nationally. We need federal assistance to address this challenge,” Yeh said.

“The Build America Bonds can provide that level of support, in addition to traditional direct grant funding by channelizing the private investment market.”

Wyden chairs the Senate Finance Committee, and says Mike Crapo, the ranking Republican Senator from Idaho, backs the Build America Bonds program as well. But some GOP lawmakers want to put a fee on electric vehicles, or improve existing credit programs for infrastructure projects. 

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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