Transportation leaders from all sectors of the industry know that we can put men and women back to work upgrading our highways, transit, and airports. That's why President Obama proposed the American Jobs Act last week, and that's why we need Congress to pass it.
Yesterday, for example, Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt and I visited a project that is doing just that, a new air traffic control tower under construction at Oakland International Airport. Oakland International is an important airport in a crucial location, serving 10 million people each year. Modernizing its tower is an important step for those passengers and for all passengers flying in and out of the Bay Area.
And there are many other good projects across the country where we could put workers back on job sites improving the way we get people and products where they need to go. As Administrator Babbitt said, "We've got a lot of improvements we need to do, and these projects are critical."
Now, I'm encouraged that the House of Representatives took action yesterday to pass a short-term surface transportation and FAA reauthorization. I hope that bill can make its way through the Senate before Friday's deadline.
At the same time, I want to remind Congress that this would be the 22nd such short-term extension for the FAA. Parceling out money in these short increments makes it nearly impossible to plan long-term improvements, and failing to be strategic in this way ends up costing American taxpayers. It's no way to run the best aviation system in the world.
It's also no way to turn the American economy around. In the name of solving the American people's most pressing problem--unemployment--we must go beyond the short-term. As Administrator Babbitt said, "Putting the FAA in a holding pattern is no way to do business."
We're not just talking about the FAA and airports. We need to do big things throughout our transportation network, and we can if Congress passes the American Jobs Act.
The American Jobs Act will put American workers back on job sites modernizing our roads, rails, and transit systems. Just last Friday, we learned of a bridge on I-64 in Indiana that was shut down because it wasn't safe. Nearly 75,000 cars, trucks, and buses use it every day; they drive its lanes above the Ohio River taking it for granted that the bridge is safe.
So, as much as we need the extension of the FAA and our surface transportation programs, Congress should know that it won't be enough. I've recently highlighted examples of major job-creating infrastructure projects like Washington, DC's 11th Street Bridge and New Orleans' I-10 Twin Spans right here on Fast Lane, which shows that we can put men and women to back to work and boost our economic competitiveness at the same time.
Helping people feed their families and pay their mortgages while rebuilding and modernizing America's transportation network to grow our nation's economy--that's what the American Jobs Act will do, and that's why we need Congress to pass it now.