Friday, April 07, 2017
Billy Long: New legislation addresses concerns with Riverside Bridge in Ozark
As a Congressman one of my main jobs is to make sure that my constituents have their voices heard and to find ways to address their concerns. I often work with federal agencies to find quick solutions, but sometimes the only solution is through new legislation.
Just recently I introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that addresses the concerns surrounding the Riverside Bridge in Ozark, Missouri. This century-old bridge has been closed for several years due to continual flood damage. The most sensible answer is to build a new bridge on adjacent land, but Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deed restrictions prevent the property from having anything built on it.
My office has been working with local officials to develop a plan to replace the bridge, and after discussions with FEMA, it was clear that a legislative fix is needed. Senator Blunt and I decided to team up and introduce bills in the House and Senate to take the first step towards a solution. This legislation lifts the deed restrictions to give local authorities the option of building a new two-lane bridge constructed above the flood plain.
For over 100 years, Riverside Bridge has served as an important artery connecting north and south Ozark. Not having access to this bridge has required residents of the community and those that travel through it to add additional time to their commutes. For some Ozark residents it has become a bigger challenge to shop local.
The bridge closure also directly impacts emergency response. When it becomes a matter of life and death, every second counts. Requiring emergency response teams to go out of their way to get to an emergency is unacceptable and needs to change. This bill would allow for that change.
As the 115th Congress continues, I will continue talking with constituents and working with community leaders to find solutions to their concerns.