We are supportive of President Obama’s plan to invest more than $300 billion over the next four years to upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges, and mass transit systems.
The planned spending is a long-overdue important first step toward addressing a critical matter that affects all Americans. Significantly, the President’s statement yesterday on the spending plan occurred in Minnesota, location of one of the most deadly bridge collapses in our recent history.
In Minneapolis in 2007 and in Washington State in May 2013, there were major failings of heavily-traveled bridges that resulted in tragic loss of lives. The inability of Congress in recent years to fund much-needed upkeep to our nation’s roads, bridges and transportation systems has created a backlog in these sectors that represents a public health risk, as well as a serious limitation to our ability to compete fully on the economic global stage.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Nation’s “deteriorating surface transportation infrastructure will cost the American economy more than 870,000 jobs, and increase transportation costs by $430 billion by 2020.” If we do not act now, it will be much more expensive in the future. We cannot allow ourselves to be economically hamstrung at this particularly inopportune moment in our history.
Current funding for transportation projects is due to expire later this year. There are an estimated 700,000 jobs on the line, and should the present level of infrastructure funding expire, failure to approve the plan put forward yesterday will result in a lethal blow to our economy by increasing the present unemployment rate; it also would lead to the increasing deterioration of roads and bridges that are jeopardizing our safety, while costing families and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars per year. The $300 billion plan announced by the President is a common-sense plan. It should not be defeated by partisan posturing.
We urge the House of Representatives to put the interests of the country first and approve President Obama’s infrastructure funding proposal, and end the political gamesmanship that has stalled this kind of critical investment in our country’s future.