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Leading Transportation Advocates Focus on Upcoming Efforts to Press Passage of Long-Term Highway Bill

LIUNA’s Nearly $1 Million Ad and Action Campaign To Start in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan

Washington, DC (May 12, 2014) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today unveiled its new creative media campaign to press Congress to pass a long-term, full-investment Highway Bill this year. The campaign includes provocative, hard-hitting billboards, radio ads, online tools and events and activities around symbolic props.

With an initial investment of nearly $1 million, LIUNA will first launch the campaign in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan said, “for LIUNA, passage of a highway bill is about jobs, but, as with every American, it’s about ensuring the safety and reliability of our transportation systems.”

The LIUNA campaign will zero in on the consequences of inaction. The campaign will highlight key facts:

  • The average bridge in the U.S. is 46 years old, dangerously close to the average lifespan of 50 years.
  • On average, 25 bridges collapse each year in the U.S.
  • According to the transportation research group, TRIP, potholes and poor road conditions contribute to a third of all traffic fatalities every year.

A preview of LIUNA’s new radio spots and creative outdoor materials and props are available at http://www.liuna.org/infrastructure-week-news-briefing

O’Sullivan also warned Congress against using a temporary extension to further delay a bill. “Another short-term patch, simply duct-taping the roads and bridges we all rely on, must be off the table,” he said. “To put the trust back in the highway trust fund, we must prevent further deterioration.”

Joining O’Sullivan at the “Infrastructure Week” briefing at the Newseum were leaders from Building America’s Future, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, the American Automobile Association and Associated General Contractors of America.

Marcia Hale, President of Building America’s Future, highlighted their new web application – the “I’m Stuck” app – which is designed to help drivers speak out about deteriorating highways in their area.

“We think it’s really important for the people who need to vote on the transportation bill and the Highway Trust Fund to hear directly from their constituents,” she said.

The gas tax was last adjusted in 1993. Its value has decreased 40 percent since then due to rising construction materials costs and more fuel efficient cars. 

AAA’s Managing Director of Government Relations, Jill Ingrassia, shared a preference with others for adjusting the tax. “Asking Americans to pay more isn’t easy, but on this issue in particular, it’s the right thing to do,” she said. “Voters understand roads aren’t free and they are willing to support increased investment when they know that the revenue is going to be spent in ways that improve their travel experience.”

Said Ingrassia: “Congress and the President need to act.”

As transportation advocates step up their outreach efforts across the country, they will continue to press members of Congress directly. The American Road and Transportation Builders Association will be flying in “hundreds of members from all sectors,” their President and CEO Pete Ruane said at the briefing. “Members of Congress have a choice to make: they can move expeditiously to end a perpetual state of deteriorating critical transportation infrastructure or they can remain like Bill Murray in movie Groundhog Day, trapped in a repetitive cycle, doomed to repeat the same mistake over and over again.”

“There is no excuse,”  O’Sullivan added. “Congress now has several viable, responsible options in front of them to pass a Highway Bill and save the Highway Trust Fund.”

The briefing comes as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee reveals the details of a new multi-year bill. Obama Administration officials also introduced a plan of their own. And Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer has introduced a bill to adjust the gas tax to save the Highway Trust Fund, which faces a multi-billion dollar shortfall this summer, according to the Department of Transportation.

“We need to invest in this country,” Hale of Building America’s Future said. “We need to do it for the present, for jobs and for quality of life and we need to do it for the future to remain economically competitive.”

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