President Barack Obama proposed on in his State of the Union Address to invest $50 billion on crumbling roads and bridges and spend $15 billion on a construction jobs program in a bid to boost economic growth.
President Barack Obama proposed on in his State of the Union Address to invest $50 billion on crumbling roads and bridges and spend $15 billion on a construction jobs program in a bid to boost economic growth. He pressed lawmakers to approve the "Fix it First" program that would address the most urgent infrastructure needs.
Industry reaction was swift and mostly favorable. American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Pete Ruane released the following statement regarding the State of the Union address:
“We appreciate President Obama continuing to highlight the link between a strong, properly-functioning transportation infrastructure network and economic competitiveness.
“His call for increased investment in roads, bridges and transit systems has been echoed repeatedly by scores of congressional leaders from both parties, the nation’s governors, and state and local transportation officials. Everyone is in agreement. So let’s use the opportunity at hand to start developing real solutions to address America’s infrastructure deficit.
“An overwhelming majority of Congress voted last year to support final passage of the highway and transit bill, MAP-21. The law’s program consolidation, meaningful policy reforms and accountability provisions provide the foundation for building a much broader infrastructure investment package. MAP-21, however, only provided enough financial resources to maintain highway and transit investment at current levels for two years; a scenario that does nothing to reduce the increasing economic costs and personal toll from worsening traffic congestion.
“Generating significant new revenues to complement to MAP-21’s reforms would spur economic growth and job creation, and improve the efficiency of the nation’s transportation network. We stand ready to work with the President and members of Congress from both parties to achieve these goals.”
Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) President Dennis Slater issued the following statement following the address:
“Last night, President Obama used his State of the Union address to express the need to create jobs and grow our economy. I couldn’t agree more. And while he touched on the important subjects of growing the manufacturing sector and improving our nation’s infrastructure, there was a glaring absence of focus on policies that could immediately create jobs and provide certainty to our economy.
“The President stressed the need to become energy independent, but failed to mention any plan to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Thousands of jobs are just waiting for the Administration to approve this pipeline so that more Americans can get to work. Additionally, millions of farmers, ranchers and business owners are anxiously waiting to see if Congress will pass a long-term farm bill. The short-term extension passed this year did little to increase economic certainty and has deterred farmers and businesses from investing and growing. President Obama’s failure to address this issue was a real disappointment to the agriculture community that’s so vital to our nation’s economy and wellbeing.
“AEM is pleased to see the President once again emphasizing the need for increased infrastructure investment, but we also recognize that short-term stimulus funding is nothing more than a quick fix and fails to address the long-term improvements that our nation requires. The most effective way for the United States to stay competitive in job creation is to invest in a national, strategic vision to improve and preserve our infrastructure for years to come. It is our sincere hope that Congress and President Obama will quickly come together to develop a robust, realistic and sustainable financing program for our nation’s long-term infrastructure needs, and that the President takes the strong leadership role this critical issue demands.
“AEM has long advocated that we must fix the nation’s debt through a balanced approached of reduced spending and increased revenue. The President emphasized the need to grow our manufacturing sector and create jobs here in the United States, and the number one step to doing so is to create a sound economic environment.
“By working together to create serious proposals to confront the serious issues that we face today, we can improve our nation’s fiscal situation and create an environment that allows equipment manufacturers to continue to thrive right here in the United States.”
Volvo CE head of American sales Göran Lindgren said that significant political will is needed to repair the country’s ’one big pothole’.
“It seems that political will is finally catching up with what the construction industry –and motorists – have known for years: that America’s highway system is seriously dilapidated and in dire need of repair and modernization.” said Lindgren.
"Businesses and citizens depend on basic transportation infrastructure every day for their livelihoods and they know that the current level of investment is not sustainable,” Mr. Lindgren continued. “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently described America as ’one big pothole’ – and he’s right.”
"I am hopeful that a solution to the situation can be reached after hearing President Obama’s speech last night and new House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster’s statements today about the importance the transportation infrastructure to the U.S. economy."
“Volvo Construction Equipment, along with other manufacturers of construction and road building equipment, has lobbied tirelessly to promote the need for improvements in the country’s transport network. Until now there hasn’t been the political will to make it happen. Thankfully that now looks to be changing. Of course, as the makers of the machines that will do the work, we have a vested interest in highway investment, but as the President made clear in his address, all American individuals and businesses thrive if we have a world-class transport system,” Mr. Lindgren added.