posted on September 13, 2011 13:24
CHICAGO - In a rare show of bipartisan unity, several members of the Illinois congressional delegation met at the Wacker Drive construction site in Chicago to advocate for transportation. United States Senator Mark Kirk, Congressman Dan Lipinski, and Congressman Randy Hultgren joined representatives from the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, a variety of trade unions, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and HACIA. All advocates recognized the importance of transportation as an investment in our nation's economy.
A bill to temporarily extend aviation programs through January and highway and transit programs through March was introduced in the House late Friday. An extension of these programs for an additional six months would allow Congress to avoid a shutdown and develop a long term solution to funding the nation's infrastructure.
"Congress should quickly approve this extension legislation to avoid a shutdown of the Highway Trust Fund'" said Kirk. "We also support a longer-term solution by lifting federal barriers that could mobilize up to $100 billion for transportation private-public partnerships."
"America is in a jobs crisis, and nothing creates jobs quickly and over the long term like investing in transportation," Lipinski said. "It's high time we passed a robust, multi-year transportation reauthorization. The last bill expired two years ago, and it's simply absurd that Congress and the President haven't acted."
"I'm optimistic that a bipartisan agreement can be reached on a serious, long-term investment in our nation's infrastructure," said Hultgren, a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
Mike Sturino, president & CEO of the IRTBA brought a unique perspective to the issue, noting that "One in ten Illinois union laborer's homes are in foreclosure." He added, "Transportation is the underpinning of our economy. Investment in our infrastructure will provide the much-needed boost that this economy needs to provide jobs and stability for our city, our state, and most importantly -- our families."
The legislation to extend both the aviation and surface transportation bills was agreed upon by the Congressional leaders last Friday, but requires passage by both the House and Senate. If Congress votes not to support the bill, a shutdown of road and transit projects will incur a loss of $100 million in funding each day. For the Wacker Drive project and several others around the state, that's a loss industry and our economy just cannot afford.