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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on American manufacturing in front of an Intel plant under construction in Chandler, Arizona January 25, 2012.      REUTERS/Jason Reed    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
President Barack Obama is making a push on bridge and highway repair Wednesday afternoon, visiting New York's Tappan Zee Bridge to remind Congress of the nation's tens of thousands of crumbling bridges. With the Highway Trust Fund expected to run out of money this summer, Congress must act if an already bad situation is to be prevented from getting worse:
In an assessment of the possible fallout, the administration says that the fund’s bankruptcy would delay more than 100,000 road projects, more than 5,000 transit projects, and put at risk 700,000 construction jobs. [...]

[Transportation Secretary Anthony] Foxx warned that short-term spending measures, the divided Congress’s preferred way to fund the government in recent years, have put off the planning and financing of long-range projects essential to solving rather than just managing the nation’s growing transportation problems. Those included bridges coming to the end of their planned use and overburdened airports, rail systems and roads.

By 2050, Foxx said, the country’s transportation system will need to move 100 million new people and 14 billion additional tons of freight, nearly twice the current level. The administration, drawing on calculations made by the American Society of Civil Engineers, estimates that $3.6 trillion in spending will be needed to sufficiently address the mounting infrastructure problems by the end of the decade.

In addition to urging Congress to pass billions of dollars in new funding through the GROW AMERICA Act, Obama is touting efforts to speed permitting processes. Case in point: The Tappan Zee Bridge, where Obama is speaking, is slated for replacement after nearly six decades of use; according to a White House fact sheet, traffic on the bridge has increased 30 percent since 1990. Its replacement will cost $3.9 billion and is being paid for largely through higher tolls. The permitting and review process for the new bridge took 1.5 years, according to the White House fact sheet, instead of the customary three to five years.

The Tappan Zee is a particularly large and heavily trafficked bridge, but the basic scenario—an aging bridge carrying more traffic than intended and badly in need of repair or replacement—is repeated tens of thousands of times across the country. Fixing that shouldn't be a partisan issue. But today's Republicans look at a problem like this and realize that fixing bridges would make people safer and create jobs, and they worry that this means it would be good for Democrats. That's how we got to this point and it's why things are likely to get worse before they get better.

I still like the idea of posting giant signs identifying bridges as structurally deficient. Maybe with contact information for the local members of Congress.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed May 14, 2014 at 09:51 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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