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As Highway Bill Nears Senate Passage, LIUNA Intensifies Pressure on House Republican Leader to Pass Highway Bill
New Ad, “Russian Roulette,” Up In Ohio; “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” Truck to Travel State; “How to Survive a Collapsing Bridge: Inspired By House Speaker John Boehner” Mailed to Voters
Washington, D.C. (March 13, 2012) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today dramatically intensified its effort to pressure the House Republican leadership to pass a bipartisan Highway Bill that protects jobs-creating investment in the nation’s roads and bridges.
The union unveiled a powerful new radio ad – “Russian Roulette” – which makes the analogy that the failure of Congress to act forces Americans to play Russian roulette when they cross structurally deficient or obsolete bridges. A fourth of the nation’s bridges are deficient or obsolete, and the average bridge is now 45 years old, dangerously close the average bridge lifespan of 50 years. The ad will air in House Speaker Boehner’s district, including Dayton, as well as in Columbus and Cincinnati.
In addition, 100,000 brochures entitled “How to Survive a Collapsing Bridge: Inspired by House Speaker John Boehner,” will begin arriving in voters’ households this week. The tongue-in-cheek brochure draws from the U.S. Army Survival Guide on bridge collapses. On Monday, a flatbed truck carrying a giant roll of duct tape and labeled the “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” will begin traveling Ohio to provide people with information about the stalled Highway Bill.
The campaign escalates as Congress faces a March 31 deadline to pass a Highway Bill. LIUNA’s first round of Highway Bill ads ran in both Ohio and Kentucky, aimed at pressuring Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Now that the Senate is expected to pass a bipartisan two-year bill this week that maintains investment and protects jobs and our transportation systems, ads in Kentucky have been suspended. The House, however, has been handcuffed by extremist Republicans attempting to slash investment.
In addition to the ads, mail and creative activities, thousands of LIUNA members will be reaching out to their member of Congress in the coming weeks, urging passage of the bipartisan Senate bill.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, one-in-four bridges – nearly 150,000 nationwide – have been deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by Federal Highway Administration inspectors. About 3,580 bridges in the U.S. are closed to all traffic because they are unsafe. About 77,000 create a chokehold on commerce because they are obsolete and can’t handle the weight of commercial vehicles.
In addition to bridges, the Highway Bill protects the nation’s overall transportation systems. Due to the logjam in Congress and the failure to keep up, poor road conditions have become a factor in 53% of traffic fatalities, according to a Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation study. The study also found that poor roadway condition is the single largest variable in increasing the severity of crash injuries – more than speeding, alcohol use or failure to wear a seatbelt.
“Stalling the Highway Bill and forcing Americans to in effect play Russian Roulette every time they cross a deficient bridge doesn’t just endanger lives – it puts a chokehold on our economy and on jobs,” LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said. “Politicizing the Highway Bill is bad for America. Speaker Boehner should lead his party to passage of a bipartisan bill.”
For more information, to view campaign materials and listen to the ads, visit www.HighwayBill.org.