President Obama on Wednesday, Nov. 2, delivered remarks in front of Washington, D.C.’s Key Bridge urging Congress to pass the transportation piece of the American Jobs Act, which would invest $50 billion in the nation’s transportation infrastructure and $10 billion to create a bipartisan National Infrastructure Bank. “Together, these initiatives would put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding roads, rails and runways,” Obama said.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, the Key Bridge is in need of repairs and maintenance work. The District Department of Transportation proposed a $20 million project to rehabilitate and repair portions of the bridge, but the city is deferring this maintenance to 2015 due to a lack of funds. If Congress passes this bill, Obama said, DDOT could begin making these critical repairs as early as 2013.
“Construction workers have been among the Americans hit hardest over the past few years,” the president said. “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.”
Also on Wednesday, Nov. 2, the White House released a report to highlight the increasing need to rebuild roads, bridges, railways and airports across the nation. “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,” states the report, which highlights projects from Arizona, 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, as well as Washington, D.C.
The administration on Wednesday, Nov. 2, also announced several 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 DOT to award $527 million in competitive TIGER grants by the end of 2011 – months ahead of schedule. 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 to help accelerate projects. 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; and
• Establishing a Transportation Rapid Response Team to expedite reviews of surface transportation projects. Co-chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality and DOT, the team will identify and implement best practices to improve the transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of environmental review and permit decisions for transportation projects while protecting public health.