President Obama urged Congress to pass the transportation piece of the American Jobs Act, which will make an immediate investment of $50 billion in our nation’s transportation infrastructure and a $10 billion investment to create a bipartisan National Infrastructure Bank. Together, these initiatives will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, rails, and runways. He made the call in front of Washington, D.C.’s Key Bridge.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the Key Bridge is in need of crucial repairs and maintenance work. In order to ensure the Key Bridge remains both safe and functional well into the future, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) proposed a $20 million project to rehabilitate and repair critical portions of the bridge. However, the city is deferring this maintenance to 2015 due to a lack of funds. If Congress passes this bill, DDOT could make these critical repairs more quickly and put Americans back to work as early as 2013.
“Construction workers have been among the Americans hit hardest over the past few years,” Obama said. “And that makes no sense when there's so much of America that needs rebuilding. This week, Congress has the chance to do something about it and pass a bill that will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports and transit systems. It's a bill that includes the kinds of ideas both parties have voted for in the past, it's paid for, and its ideas are supported by an overwhelming majority of the American people. It’s time for Congress to act.”
The White House released a report, “Recent Examples Of The Economic Benefits From Investing In Infrastructure,” to highlight the importance of rebuilding roads, bridges, railways, and airports across the nation. The report states, “In order to meet the needs of a growing economy, there is an ongoing need for new investments to maintain, upgrade, and expand the nation’s stock of transportation infrastructure.” The report highlights projects from Arizona, Washington D.C., Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.
The Administration also announced several “common-sense” steps it has taken to improve the process of reviewing and approving transportation projects, help cut red tape, and leverage additional private sector funding in order to promote private sector growth and job creation. These steps include:
- Directing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to award $527 million in competitive TIGER grants by the end of 2011 – months ahead of schedule. The TIGER program puts American workers back on the job by helping to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges, and working on innovative projects like streetcar and light rail systems. This year, DOT received about 1,000 applications, including at least one from every state.
- Directing DOT to shorten the application process for the 2012 round of TIFIA funding, which will accelerate projects and put workers back on the job more quickly. TIFIA provides up to one-third of the financing needed for bridge, tunnel, toll, transit and other large-scale transportation projects. That means the annual funding level of $110 million in TIFIA funds can support projects totaling up to $3 billion in construction.
- Establishing a Transportation Rapid Response Team to expedite reviews of surface transportation projects. Co-chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Department of Transportation, the team will identify and implement best practices to improve the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of environmental review and permit decisions for transportation projects, protecting public health and putting Americans back to work.