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President Obama Plan Moves Discussion Forward on Ending Duct-Tape Approach for Transportation Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. (February 26, 2014) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s four-year, $302-billion dollar proposal for investing in America’s transportation infrastructure:

The President’s proposal advances the discussion about how to address our nation’s transportation infrastructure crisis. For too long, the duct-tape approach by Congress has destabilized the construction industry, stalled projects, cost jobs and slowed our economy. More discussion and debate is welcome but ultimately there must be action as the facts remain clear:

  • The average bridge in our country is 45 years old, dangerously close to the average 50-year lifespan. Typically, 25 bridges a year collapse in the U.S.
  • Every dollar we invest now could save $14 late due to higher costs caused by further deterioration.
  • Delaying investment costs motorists more than $324 a year each on wasted fuel and repairs.

While all proposals merit discussion, adjusting the gas tax remains the most reliable, commonsense means of bridging the gap between needs and investment. The gas tax has been stagnant for two decades while needs and construction materials costs have increased. A phased-in increase will be enough to fuel our nation’s Highway Trust Fund before it runs out of gas and allow our nation the time it needs to develop alternative, longer-term solutions, such a vehicle miles travelled fee, innovative financing tools and other solutions.

While the knee-jerk reaction of some in Congress has been to reject adjusting the tax, abundant polling shows the American public will accept paying pennies more if they are assured the resources will make the roads, bridges and transit they use every day safer and more modern.

The working men and women of LIUNA are ready, willing and able to do their jobs and are eager for Congress to continue moving forward with theirs. Along with a broad coalition, LIUNA calls on members of both parties to respond to the President’s proposal by passing a long-term Highway Bill this year.