Today, the United States Senate has the opportunity to pass the transportation investments that President Obama proposed in the American Jobs Act. And for the sake of the American people, I hope they'll put aside politics for one moment and vote "yes" on this legislation that Democrats, Republicans and everyone in between knows will put our friends and neighbors back to work.
This morning I called on Congress to do just that at the Bridgeport-Norristown Viaduct, a rail transit bridge near Philadelphia that badly needs those provisions to pass.
I’ve said numerous times on this blog that there’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican bridge, and that remains true. But unfortunately, there is such a thing as bridges in need of repair, and those are the bridges that President Obama would like to see rehabilitated through the transportation provisions of the American Jobs Act. Through these proposed investments, we can get people back to work and make our transportation network safer.
President Obama and I saw it yesterday at the Key Bridge and before that at the Brent Spence Bridge. Senator Rand Paul, Gov. Mitch Daniels, and I saw it at the Sherman Minton Bridge in September.
But it’s not just bridges for cars and trucks that are in need of long-delayed repairs. As Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said this morning, “Southeastern Pennsylvania, home to some of the oldest transit infrastructure in the nation, is in need of a 21st Century overhaul.”
I agree with Administrator Rogoff. The Bridgeport-Norristown Viaduct was built a century ago, in 1911. In 2011, it carries thousands of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) passengers monthly on the Norristown High Speed Line. The viaduct extends from the Norristown Transportation Center, and it carries riders over two other rail lines, the Schuylkill River, and the town of Bridgeport before ending at Bridgeport Station.
But the 100-year-old structure is showing its age with cracks to the steel and concrete elements, corrosion losses, and failing timber ties. It’s safe, but we need to make sure it stays that way.
The transportation funding in the American Jobs Act will provide SEPTA and transit agencies across the country with the resources they need to complete critical repairs and upgrades. It will also provide a great opportunity for hundreds of thousands of American workers to get back on the job, whether that job is rebuilding roadways or repairing transit tracks.
Look, it's really very simple: When you put men and women to work on transportation projects, you create jobs today and smooth the way for greater economic competitiveness and opportunity tomorrow. And when you neglect those projects, you're putting your head in the sand on passenger safety.
As President Ronald Reagan said in 1982, transportation projects are “an investment in tomorrow that we must make today.”
It’s time for the members of Congress, many of whom cite President Reagan as their inspiration, to put politics aside and invest in getting America back to work. I hope Congress will do its job so workers in Pennsylvania and all 50 states can get back to theirs.