I was proud to stand beside President Obama yesterday as he urged Congress to take up his $50 billion infrastructure initiative.
The President outlined America's two great challenges--upgrading our infrastructure and putting Americans back to work--and reminded the nation that his proposed investment in roadways, railways, and runways responds to both of those challenges.
"What we need," he said, "is a smart system of infrastructure equal to the needs of the 21st century."
The President’s speech followed our meeting with a bipartisan group of mayors and governors from across the country. We talked about the current state of our transportation infrastructure, the challenges we face to improving the infrastructure in America's cities and states, and the short--and long--term economic impact of new infrastructure investment.
We were also joined by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and former Transportation Secretaries Sam Skinner, Norman Mineta and Rodney Slater. Around the table, the key message we heard was that our nation’s infrastructure is vital to our economy and our future competitiveness.
That is precisely why the President has laid out a bold new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America's transportation infrastructure that will bring jobs to our economy now and increase our nation's growth and productivity in the years and decades ahead.
And if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that I agree with him 100% on the urgency of this push. And you also know that the transportation projects supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have begun addressing these needs.
As President Obama said yesterday, "Tens of thousands of projects employing hundreds of thousands of workers are already underway across America."
Americans know the Recovery Act has been working because they see their friends and neighbors working on roads and bridges and transit systems. They see the orange cones. They hear the stories of workers who have good jobs on long-needed projects.
They have seen their tax dollars at work helping to turn the economy around and put the country back to work.
All of three of these reports confirm what President Obama said: "For years, we have deferred tough decisions, and today, our aging system of highways and byways, air routes and rail lines hinder our economic growth."
And, as the President said, "We're already paying for our failure to act."
President Obama holds a meeting with Cabinet secretaries, former secretaries of Transportation and mayors and governors on infrastructure investment, October 11, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
What we will do to address this? President Obama's initiative proposes that:
"Over the next six years, we will rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads -- enough to circle the world six times. We will lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways -- enough to stretch from coast to coast. And we will restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system that reduces delays for the American people."
Europe is doing this today. China is doing this today. They are committed to creating jobs today and playing to win tomorrow. America cannot afford to watch from the sidelines.
This administration will not allow our nation to stand by as infrastructure slows our economy and workers sit idle. The Recovery Act has been an effective first step forward. President Obama's infrastructure initiative is the necessary next step.