The Vice President is getting out of Washington and traveling to communities across the country to get a few snapshots of how the Recovery Act is creating jobs and improving the nation’s infrastructure. He kicked off his "Road to Recovery" tour this morning in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, at the groundbreaking for the Route 34 bridge project.
(Vice President Joe Biden tours the construction site of the route 34 bridge with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Arlen Specter, and site superintendent Matt Yacobenes, in in Carlisle Pennsylvania, Thursday, June 11, 2009. The construction of the site is partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
The Vice President first visited the 80-year-old bridge in February, a week before the Recovery and Reinvestment Act was signed. Now, the worn out bridge is being replaced thanks to a $1.7 million Recovery Act contract, which will not only provide jobs to Pennsylvanians, but also help ensure the safety of the thousands of people who travel on the bridge daily. This project is just one of over 4,000 transportation projects to launch since the Recovery Act was passed. The Vice President stressed that these much-needed infrastructure improvements will build the foundation for an improved transportation system in America:
But I would also point out we're building a foundation for a new transportation system in America that's upgraded, allowing businesses and communities to be competitive again, and making people safer.
So that's a byproduct we never talk about. You guys in the hardhats out there do this every day, and put these roads back together and bridges back together and construct the airports. It's not merely about the job, which is the ultimate purpose for this legislation -- the primary purpose, I should say -- but it's building a whole new foundation, for a crumbling infrastructure that has gone unattended for a long time…
In fact, these investments will not only help us bounce back in the short term by providing jobs, but will also help us in the long term to become leaders in the 21st century:
Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be in a tough slog for awhile. But the truth is -- the truth of the matter is that we're going to bounce back. And when we bounce back, we're going to be stronger, better prepared, more efficient, and more competitive than any time we have been in our history. And we are going to once again lead the 21st century like we did the 20th. But you can't do it without a new energy plan. You can't do it without a new infrastructure. You can't do it without a revitalized education system. And you can't do it without a health care system that's not draining us every single day.
The Vice President was joined at the groundbreaking by Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Arlen Specter, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Governor Rendell talked about the real impact the bridge project will have on the lives of local Pennsylvanians, noting that some members of the building crew had been previously laid off.
Vice President Joe Biden tours the construction site of the route 34 bridge with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Senator Arlen Specter, and site superintendent Matt Yacobenes, in in Carlisle Pennsylvania, Thursday, June 11, 2009. The construction of the site is partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)
Later in the day, the Vice President, along with Secretary Sebelius and Secretary LaHood, traveled to his next stop on the "Road to Recovery" tour -- Overland Park, Kansas, for the groundbreaking of the US Highway 69 project. The $76 million in Recovery Act funds will help reconstruct the major highway, improving traffic flow, shortening commute times and increasing access to major employment centers
The Vice President reiterated that these projects are a down-payment on the country’s future:
The impact of this project starting today goes well beyond the shovels we’re putting into the ground - it’s about staying competitive in the 21st century. By widening and rebuilding Highway 69, it will be easier and cheaper for the entire Kansas City area to do business, not just today, not just tomorrow, but for decades.