Va. Sen. Mark Warner says he has enough bipartisan support to start on National Park Service repairs
WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Sinkholes. Potholes. For months, FOX 5 has brought you several reports on how the National Park Service (NPS) says it does not have enough money for repair projects. Now, there may now be a glimmer of hope and a rare outbreak of Congressional bipartisanship.
Under the 14th Street Bridge, the seawall and sidewalk collapsed in just the past few days. It has been blocked off, but a fix won't be cheap: it would cost around $253 million to replace the entire seawall -- money the NPS will tell you they just don't have.
"We have $665 million worth of projects that are considered to be deferred or delayed maintenance. Projects that we know need to be done but we just don't have enough in the annual appropriation to cover it," said Mike Litterest with the NPS.
This is a problem that affects everyone in the D.C. area. -- Those sinkholes that closed down the George Washington Parkway in Virginia? That's run by the NPS. The potholes that plagued the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Maryland? That's also the NPS. The crumbling Tidal Basin and the National Mall? Again, the NPS.
That's why Virginia Senator Mark Warner says he's optimistic that he's got enough support among Democrats and Republicans to start chopping away at twelve billion dollars worth of NPS repair jobs. The first part of this will be a $6.5 billion package. But this is money, Warner says, needs to be spent or the costs will skyrocket over time.
"We see it in the sinkhole on the GW Parkway, we see it on the BW Parkway, we see it across the National Mall! It's either pay me now or pay me later. Unless we get these resources, part of our history goes into total decay [and] the longer we wait, the more costly they'll be to the taxpayer," said Warner.
It turns out the D.C. region is not alone -- from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite National Park, there are projects nationwide that need to be done, but Congress just hasn't come up with the funding to do them.
Warner tells FOX 5 he's got more than 200 co-sponsors in both the Senate and the House. What's key here is that he also has support from the White House.