On Thursday night, the President made a strong case for putting people back to work across the country, especially in modernizing our infrastructure, the backbone of our economy. And just yesterday, we saw another example of why this is so crucial--not just to put more Americans back to work, but to protect people's safety and keep our economy moving.
On Friday, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was forced to shut down a major Ohio River crossing on Interstate 64 just before rush hour because of a large crack that threatens the critical load-carrying element of the bridge. Structural engineers from the public and private sectors and from engineering universities recommended closing the bridge. The Federal Highway Administration is helping state officials evaluate the crack more thoroughly to determine the best course of action.
Whatever they determine, closing the Sherman Minton Bridge will put a big crimp into interstate commerce and getting people to their jobs and home again. The bridge is a primary link for commuters between New Albany, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky. I-64 is a major highway for east and westbound freight, connecting the important hub of St. Louis with points east.
All told, the bridge carries 75,000 cars, turcks, and buses each day, and these vehicles now must be rerouted onto alternate routes, which are already congested and not designed to handle this extra capacity. This will slow things down considerably for tens of thousands of commuters and for tens of thousands of truck drivers trying to deliver the goods that keep our economy going.
Modernizing the half-century old Sherman Minton Bridge is long overdue. Fortunately, President Obama has a plan--the American Jobs Act--to help Indiana, Kentucky, and other states' critical roads, bridges, and transit systems across the country. The President's plan would put our friends and neighbors back to work, modernizing our roads, upgrading our runways, and repairing our rails.
In its 2009 assessment, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave our infrastructure a grade of D. Imagine your reaction if your child came home with a grade like that. In a nation as developed and advanced as the United States, we should find this unacceptable and we should demand action.
The American Jobs Act is that action.
At the same time, good workers supporting good families need jobs. The American Jobs Act can put those people to work right now strengthening and modernizing the roads and bridges that are the life-blood of our economy. Congress must approve it now.