Readers of this blog know that I've been busy the past few weeks helping celebrate a variety of construction projects underway thanks to federal support. And these projects--which will soon make life easier for people in Tampa, Grand Rapids, Atlanta, Richmond, and Philadelphia--have been terrific examples of the kind of American infrastructure we can build if Congress passes the long-term transportation bill President Obama called for in his State of the Union address last month.
But I'm not the only one from DOT who's been on the road lately. Deputy Secretary John Porcari recently visited Erie, PA, and Toledo, OH, where DOT investments across the country have stimulated manufacturing and led to new jobs.
In Pennsylvania, Deputy Secretary Porcari visited GE Transportation's Erie Manufacturing Plant, where he toured the Final Locomotive Assembly facility. The resurgent freight rail industry prompted GE to hire 1,100 new workers in 2011, bringing the Erie plant's total to 5,500 employees. And the plant is not only building locomotives for the American market; they are also exporting. In fact, the locomotive Erie workers were finishing up during Deputy Secretary Porcari's visit is headed for Australia.
GE Transportation anticipates even more growth down the road, with CEO Lorenzo Simonelli announcing plans for an additional $140 million investment to modernize the Erie facility.
As Deputy Secretary Porcari said, "When the president talked about an America built to last, this is what he was talking about."
Last year, Chrysler committed $500 million to upgrade the Toledo complex. That investment will go toward updating the line that ultimately will build Jeep's new sport utility vehicle in 2013. It will also add a second shift to the plant, and lead to more than 1,100 jobs. Chrysler also plans to invest $72 million in its Toledo Machining Plant. Deputy Secretary Porcari credited the surge of activity at the Toledo complex to President Obama's 2009 decision to help keep Chrysler and General Motors competitive.
"What you see here today is proof of that," said the Deputy Secretary. "You see record production; you see productivity up; and you see American products being exported around the world. It was especially gratifying to see some process improvements that have actually led to in-sourcing of jobs here in the Toledo plant."
Job growth, capital investment, exports, and in-sourcing--that's the kind of good news we can continue hearing if Congress allows us to continue targeted federal investments in transportation through a long-term bill. President Obama knows it. I know it. Deputy Secretary Porcari knows it. And the thousands of workers and their families in Erie and Toledo know it. We have work to do; a long-term transportation bill will let us get it done.