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Published: Thursday, 7/24/2008

Brown wants to require rust-proofing for infrastructure projects


Bridges and other public works throughout Ohio, and across America, would cost less to maintain if inexpensive rust-control measures were included when they are built or overhauled, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) asserts.

With an eye toward making bridges, water mains, and other infrastructure last longer, Mr. Brown yesterday announced a bill to require corrosion mitigation and prevention plans for federally funded projects.

A companion bill would provide tax credits for the development and use of corrosion prevention measures.

In a telephone news conference, Mr. Brown conceded that adding corrosion control would increase the direct cost of public works projects but reduce maintenance and provide longer life before overhaul or replacement.

"The money government will save is going to be much greater than it spends on this," the senator said. The "difficult thing" is to get government or the private sector to look beyond the current year's budget or quarterly profit report, he said.

Mr. Brown cited a Federal Highway Administration analysis from 2001 identifying corrosion as the cause of $276 billion in annual repair or replacement work, including $8.3 billion for bridges.

Private industry, the senator said, has estimated that one-third of corrosion could be eliminated with preventive measures, such as special rust-inhibiting coatings on metals, the use of less corrosion-prone construction materials, or even the use of low-voltage electric current to slow corrosion's chemical reactions.

Using such technology costs less than 10 percent of the cost for replacing critical facilities, he said.

Scott Varner, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said his agency is reviewing the senator's announcement to assess how it would affect Ohio's transportation program.

"ODOT has a great partner in Sherrod Brown in protecting, preserving, and modernizing Ohio's transportation system," Mr. Varner said. "His proposal to offer tax credits for companies to improve, and hopefully reduce the cost of, new anti-corrosion technology adds to that effort.

"More importantly, ODOT joins the senator in his effort to ensure continued and greater federal investment in Ohio's infrastructure."

Mr. Brown said he anticipates no significant opposition to the two bills other than from parties who consider such federal mandates to infringe upon states' management of their own affairs. Densely settled and positioned astride major transportation corridors, Ohio has the nation's second-largest bridge inventory, 10th-largest highway network, and fifth-highest traffic volume.

Contact David Patch at:


or 419-724-6094.

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