On Wednesday, President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood joined business and labor leaders to call on Congress to pass a clean extension of key transportation programs to protect critical jobs and bolster our roads, bridges, runways and railways.
State and local leaders around the country are echoing the President’s call and urging Congress to quickly pass a surface transportation bill to make sure our nation continues to invest in infrastructure and keep nearly a million construction and other workers on the job.
128 bi-partisan mayors from 36 states signed a letter to Congressional leaders asking for a timely extension of the nation’s transportation laws:
For generations both parties have recognized the need to construct and improve a national transportation network, and we built a world-class system that has moved goods and people efficiently for decades. Today, there is growing anxiety that for the first time in decades Congress could fail to continue to fund our national transportation system…We cannot afford to undermine our competitiveness over the long-term, while immediately eliminating hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs during this challenging economic time…We strongly urge Congress to send a clean extension of our nation’s surface transportation program to the President for his immediate signature.
In addition, many other state and local leaders spoke out about the urgency of transportation reauthorization.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick:
Under our Administration, we have made historic investments in our public infrastructure to create jobs and leave this Commonwealth better for the next generation. I join the President in calling upon Congress to move forward with this reauthorization so that we can keep Massachusetts workers on the job, and continue to support our infrastructure needs.
Los Angeles, California Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
It’s time for Congress to move with purpose on the one issue most Americans will be pondering this Labor Day: how to keep or find a good job.The very first step Congress must take when it reconvenes this Tuesday is to pass the Surface Transportation Bill. With nearly 2 million jobs on the line, and an historic unemployment across the country, there is no more important issue facing Congress. This is job one...American workers are concerned with a paycheck, not partisanship. Congress must put politics aside and the people first. Let's get the job done and keep these nearly 2 million Americans on the job.
Baltimore, Maryland Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake:
Congress must move forward with President Obama’s jobs agenda by supporting the surface transportation bill, which provides funding for road construction, bridge repair, and mass transit systems that keep our citizens and our economy moving. It also keeps a significant number of construction workers, engineers, and other hard workers employed and earning paychecks. The City of Baltimore owns and maintains more than 2,000 miles of roadways, 7 miles of interstate highways, and nearly 300 bridges and culverts - and, like many American communities, is struggling to make ends meet in this harsh economic climate. For these reasons, a clean extension of the surface transportation bill is essential to keep Baltimore moving.
Detroit, Michigan Mayor David Bing:
I urge our Michigan delegation to support President Barack Obama’s call for action to protect the nearly 1 million jobs impacted by the Surface Transportation Bill and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization. The City of Detroit needs continued support for rebuilding our roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure. It is critical that Congress take swift action to support our economy.
Cincinnati, Ohio Mayor Mark Mallory:
The President is right to focus on our nation’s transportation infrastructure at this time. Large scale transportation projects bring jobs to cities. When bridges get built and roads get repaired in Cincinnati, that means jobs. When the federal government invests in improvements to I-75 or I-71, it means that Cincinnatians go to work. Cincinnati will benefit from federal transportation funding and I call on Congress to pass a clean extension of the surface transportation bill.
Columbus, Ohio Mayor Michael B. Coleman:
The extension of SAFTEA-LU is essential to put people to work on millions of dollars of timely roadway and traffic signal improvements that will make Columbus streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. Congress must set aside politics and stand together in support of these sorely needed jobs and infrastructure improvements.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Mayor Mick Cornett:
An investment in our country’s aging infrastructure puts people to work on projects that keep America’s cities running. Historically, the economic health of the United States has mirrored the strength of its cities. Like many Americans, I am concerned about the federal deficit, but the fastest route to economic disaster is to allow our roads, highways, bridges and other essential infrastructure to crumble.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:
Passage of the Surface Transportation bill is critically important to Pittsburgh and cities like ours across America. Bridge and highway repair are vital to keeping our people safe. Further, without modern transportation systems, American cities would fall apart, unable to compete for jobs in a global economy. If Pittsburgh is to continue to be ‘America’s Most Livable City,’ we must also be a city that protects our residents through infrastructure safety measures and a city that creates jobs through providing 21st century transportation solutions. We in Pittsburgh call on Congress to move forward in a bipartisan way to pass a clean extension of the Surface Transportation Bill and of the Federal Aviation Administration to make sure that America’s roads, bridges and airports are the best in the world.
Charleston, South Carolina Mayor Joseph Riley:
America’s competitiveness in a global economy is directly tied to the maintenance and improvement of our infrastructure, especially roads and bridges. Investment in these infrastructure improvements will protect current American jobs and help to create new ones. It is critically important that Congress deliver to the President right away a clean extension of the Surface Transportation Bill, which expires on September 30. This is an opportunity to show, by bipartisan cooperation, that all eyes are focused on the economic future of America.
Seattle, Washington Mayor Mike McGinn:
One of the best ways we can put people back to work and help prepare our cities to meet the challenges of the 21st Century is to invest in our nation’s transportation infrastructure. I urge Congress to help us do that by following President Obama’s recommendation to pass clean extensions of the Surface Transportation Bill and the FAA reauthorization. These bills will help Seattle continue expanding our transit systems, including Sound Transit light rail and our city’s own growing streetcar network, and help us invest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects. These projects help us build safer communities, save money on gas, and put people back to work.
Hennepin County, Minnesota Commissioner Peter McLaughlin:
As a County Commissioner and Chair of a regional joint powers organization created to expand transit options, I applaud the President's leadership in urging Congress to extend the gas tax, the federal user fee for transportation. We here in the Twin Cities region are building a transportation system to support growth in our economy and reliable and economical mobility for our residents in the 21st Century. To do so, we need a robust and reliable federal partner. Lurching from one short-term federal funding commitment to another without a long-term framework for planning, programming or funding is a losing formula. It's time to move forward and follow the President's lead to a stronger infrastructure, a stronger economy and a stronger future.
Mercer County, New Jersey Executive Brian Hughes:
Mercer County is deeply committed to Congressional authorization of the Surface Transportation Bill and to extend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill, which currently expires mid-September 2011.This legislation is imperative to sustaining the surface and air transportation infrastructure needs that makes Mercer County a central hub for people and goods movement, and provides valuable opportunities for business, education and medical research.
Genesee County, New York Highway Superintendent Timothy Hens:
I wholeheartedly support President Obama's call on Congress to provide clean extensions to both the Surface Transportation Bill and the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization. Supporting infrastructure is paramount. Not only does it create new jobs, but it helps maintain the economic vitality of the nation as a whole…Nearly a week after the historic floods in Upstate New York and Vermont, communities still remain isolated and are reachable only by helicopter. Without a proper investment into infrastructure, deteriorated highways and bridge closures will isolate communities and strangle the economy.
Madison County, New York Highway Superintendent Joseph Wisinski:
The reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Bill is critical for maintaining roads and bridges in all rural upstate NY counties. In most cases it is the only funding available to replace deteriorating bridges relied on by local communities. There should be no debate on the need for a well-funded, long term Surface Transportation Bill.
Pierce County, Washington Executive Pat McCarthy:
Pierce County Washington supports the President’s call for quick passage of a clean extension to the Nation’s Surface Transportation Bill. Pierce County relies on federal funding to provide safe transportation on roads, ferries, transit, and aviation. The Pierce County economy moves in concert with construction programs and any delay in reauthorization will stress an already depressed economy in the county.
National League of Cities:
The National League of Cities supports the President’s call today for a clean extension of the surface transportation act and the user fees that support our nation’s transportation investments. The extension will prevent hundreds of thousands of workers from being forced off the job and keep much-needed infrastructure projects moving forward during this difficult economic period. A national commitment to infrastructure investment will employ hundreds of thousands of workers while improving the efficiency of the nation’s transportation network.
National Association of Counties (NACo), Executive Director Larry Naake:
It is essential that these two extensions be enacted prior to September 16 for the FAA programs and September 30 for the Surface Transportation program respectively. If the authority for these key transportation programs is allowed to lapse, thousands of transportation projects will be stopped, thousands of government and private sector jobs will be jeopardized and millions of dollars of aviation-related taxes and federal fuel taxes will not be collected and will be lost forever.
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Executive Director John Horsley:
We appreciate President Obama's support for transportation investments and look forward to continuing to work with Congress on addressing the country's urgent transportation challenges.
Cecilia Muñoz is Director of Intergovernmental Affairs