The President Speaks on the Importance of Our Nation's Infrastructure

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Virginia, July 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

This morning, President Obama took a quick trip across the Potomac to visit the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, a facility in McLean, Virginia that focuses on highway technologies that help make driving safer and smarter.

In the President's remarks, he talked about the importance of investing in new infrastructure technologies and renewing the Highway Trust Fund, as well as Congress's continued inaction on important policies that would positively benefit millions of Americans.

The President opened his remarks contextualizing the time and money that Americans spend on transportation:

One study shows that Americans spend 5.5 billion hours stuck in traffic each year, which costs us $120 billion in wasted time and gas -- that's 800 bucks per commuter. Then you’ve got outdated roads and bridges that mean businesses pay an extra $27 billion in freight costs, which are then passed on to consumers. So, all told, transportation eats up more of the typical family’s household budget than anything except the rent or a mortgage.

Funding infrastructure projects helps our families, it fuels our economy, and it better positions America for the future.

But funding for infrastructure projects is about to run out because Congress has failed to act. The Highway Trust Fund, which supports infrastructure projects around the country, is in danger of running dry.

That could put nearly 700,000 jobs at risk, including more than 17,000 right here in Virginia. More than 100,000 active projects across the country -- projects where workers as we speak are paving roads and rebuilding bridges and modernizing our transit systems -- those projects would be slowed or stopped. And some states have already had to put some projects on hold because they don’t trust Congress to get its act together.

There are bipartisan bills moving forward in both the House and the Senate to fund the Highway Trust Fund for the short term -- bills that the President supports. But he reiterated that there must be a long-term, comprehensive solution.

President Barack Obama prepares to drive a Saturn SL1 vehicle simulator

President Barack Obama prepares to drive a Saturn SL1 vehicle simulator during a tour of the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., July 15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

That's why, earlier this year, the President produced his own plan that would rebuild our infrastructure in a comprehensive and responsible way. It is a plan that invests in our future, instead of just kicking the can down the road.

It would support millions of jobs. It would give cities and states, and private investors the certainty they need to plan ahead and hire more workers. It would help small businesses ship their goods faster. It would help parents get home to their kids faster. It would mean less wear and tear on your car. It would mean less money on gas. It would save people money. It would support cutting-edge research like the work that you’re doing here, which could end up cutting back on the number of traffic fatalities.

But as is so often the case these days, House Republicans have refused to act on this -- and they haven't come up with their own ideas, either.

"Do something: That’s my big motto for Congress right now. Just do something."

The President wants everybody -- Republicans and Democrats -- to work together on this issue, and others, to help move this country forward. But where Congress fails to act, the President is going to continue to act on his own to expand opportunity for all Americans.

So I’m proud of you. I want you to keep on doing what you’re doing. We’re going to try to make sure Congress actually does as good of a job at what they’re supposed to be doing as you guys are doing on yours. If we do, then you’re going to have some parents who are getting home a little earlier. You’re going to have folks who aren’t going to have to go to the body shop quite as often. You’re going to be seeing millions of people across the country saving money at the pump. We’re going to see airline delays reduced, so when you plan that Thanksgiving trip, you’re not spending the whole time in the airport. All that can make a huge difference.

Learn more about why we need to rebuild our nation's infrastructure, and watch the President's full remarks below:

Watch on YouTube

Go behind the scenes as the President tries out a driving simulator during his tour of the Highway Research Center:

Related Topics: Jobs, Economy, Virginia