WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., today joined Congressional leaders in calling for the need to pass and fund federal highway legislation to meet the pressing needs of the nation’s bridges and transportation infrastructure. Jeffords is the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which will consider the $311 billion reauthorization of the nation’s highway and transit bill later this year. Jeffords joined House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Don Young, R – Alaska, and others today at a press conference overlooking the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, which connects northern Virginia to Washington, D.C. The bridge, which carries 100,000 vehicles each weekday, is about to begin emergency repairs and will severely disrupt traffic. “In many ways this bridge behind us is a symbol of the state of ournation's highway system: it’s over-used, it’s over-crowded and it’s under-funded. Our nation’s transportation system is struggling to keep pace with the growth in traffic,” said Jeffords. In 2000 Americans traveled 2.7 trillion vehicle miles. Last year, an average peak period trip required 51 percent more time than the same trip under non-peak, non-congested conditions. In 2000, 14 percent of roads were rated less than acceptable for their pavement’s condition while nearly 28 percent of the Nation’s bridges were classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Jeffords continued, “While we've made progress in my state of Vermont, 17 percent of our roads are in poor condition and 17 percent of our bridges require structural repairs similar to those underway on the Roosevelt bridge.” Jeffords said he hopes Congress will consider the transportation reauthorization bill before it expires on October 1, 2003.