By Mark S. Kuhar
The “Getting Schooled in Infrastructure” school bus tour kicked off at the now-closed I-495 bridge in Wilmington, Del., with a real school bus that has been crushed and carries a prop resembling a large piece of a fallen bridge. The bus will travel through more than 22 cities and Congressional districts.
The prop is part of a campaign by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) to press Congress to pass a long-term, full-investment Highway Bill this year. The campaign also includes radio ads, billboards, online activity and grassroots action.
“It’s time to stop sugar-coating this issue,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “We are not trying to scare people, but we are trying to wake people and Congress up.”
Last week, LIUNA released a national poll by Hart Research Associates that uncovered the degree of concern most Americans have about their roads. About six in 10 say they worry about poor road conditions – 27 percent of them worrying often.
Four in 10 say they or someone they know has almost had an accident or lost control of their car due to poor road surfaces, and 28 percent say poor roads have caused an accident involving themselves or someone they know. And a striking 69 percent say poor roads cost them in wear and tear on their cars – a “pothole penalty” – that equates to $324 a year for the average driver, according to TRIP. Experiences and concerns are similar regardless of political party.
“Congress has multiple, viable options to consider,” O’Sullivan said. “But it is time to act. The most reliable, tested investment resource for our roads and bridges is the gas tax and adjusting it will give Americans what they want and need – safer roads and bridges in their states and communities.”
LIUNA has been joined by a broad group, including the 54-million-member AAA, the Chamber of Commerce, Building America’s Future and others in its call to adjust the gas tax.
Other stops for the “Getting Schooled” bus following Wilmington are in Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Allentown, Chambersburg, Hollidaysburg, Altoona and Pittsburgh. Through the summer the bus is scheduled to travel to several states, including Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia and Maryland, before ending in Washington, D.C. E