Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Groups back infrastructure investment plan

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Tax breaks totaling $200 billion would be complemented with a six-year, $50 billion plan to rebuild U.S. infrastructure under a proposal aired by President Obama on Labor Day.

The President plans to provide more details on Wednesday in Cleveland. The administration envisions the infrastructure portion of the proposal as a down payment of any reauthorization of surface transportation spending; the last such measure, TEA-LU, expired in 2009.

“We are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads; that’s enough to circle the world six times. We’re going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways, enough to stretch coast to coast,” the President said Monday, announcing his latest effort to reinvigorate the U.S. economy. Also foreseen in the plan is rehabilitation or reconstruction of 150 miles of airport runway.

Among numerous groups responding, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said Tuesday it was “highly supportive of President Obama’s proposal to immediately invest $50 billion to rebuild roads, expandhigh speed rail, and rehabilitate airport runways.”

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John Horsley, AASHTO executive director, said, “We have demonstrated that investing in transportation infrastructure is one of the fastest ways to create and sustain jobs. An AASHTO January 2010 survey of states showed 9,800 ready-to-go projects valued at nearly $80 billion. If Congress wants to pass legislation investing in our transportation infrastructure, the states stand ready to put those dollars to work.”

Horsley claimed the states’ track record creating and sustaining jobs is excellent. More than 90% of Recovery Act-funded transportation projects, representing approximately $48 billion in investments, are under contract, he said. AASHTO also noted information on how states are delivering Recovery Act projects can be found at http://recovery.transportation.org. Also, details on states’ ready-to-go projects survey is online at http://downloads.transportation.org/Ready-to-Go.pdf.

Similarly, Laura Barrett, executive director of the Transportation Equity Network, said, “Just last week, TEN released a study called ‘More Transit = More Jobs.’ We’re pleased to see from President Obama’s $50 billion transportation infrastructure proposal that he agrees. We want to see as much transit as possible in federal infrastructure investments—both to maximize job creation, and to expand access to work, education, health care, and opportunity.”

Barrett offered one caveat: “When it comes to highways, repairs and maintenance should be a greater priority than new construction, since highway repairs and maintenance create more jobs than new construction,” she said.