Friday, September 16, 2011

Speaker Boehner: Fix This Bridge

Speaker Boehner has unveiled his master plan to create jobs and grow the economy.  His plan has four simple components:  1) no new taxes 2) reform the tax code and 3) reduce regulations.  That’s it!    According to the Speaker if we implement these basic components the economy will grow and there will be jobs, jobs, jobs for everyone.

Oh… we forgot #4…just say “no” to anything proposed by the Obama administration…even if you supported it before.

The President will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio next Thursday where he will view the Brent Spence Bridge.  The Brent Spence spans the Ohio River and connects Speaker Boehner’s home state of Ohio with Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.  The bridge sits on the I-75 corridor, the primary connecting route from Michigan to Florida and one of the busiest freight routes in North America.  An estimated 4% of the country’s gross domestic product crosses the bridge every year.  Because of its strategic location, the Brent Spence is enormously important to our national economy.

The problem is, the bridge is outdated and in dire need of repair.  The Brent Spence carries an average of 170,000 vehicles daily…more than double the 80,000 vehicles for which it was designed.  Congestion is a major issue. From 3 to 7 pm daily it turns into a parking lot.  Because the emergency shoulders were removed in 1986 to handle the growing traffic volume, even minor fender benders cause hours of delays.  These massive traffic delays have serious repercussions for local and national economies.

And then there is the safety issue.  There have been several fatalities on the bridge in recent years where stranded motorists are struck by passing vehicles.

The National Bridge Inventory has declared the Brent Spence functionally obsolete, having been built to federal standards that are no longer in use.  And there are 94 more obsolete, unsafe bridges in Speaker Boehner’s home state.

The Brent Spence needs to be replaced, and local leaders have worked for more than a decade to that end.  The problem is that the cost to replace the bridge and rework the 8 miles of connecting roads is $2.4 billion dollars.  That's "billion" with a "B".

We believe in the free enterprise system as much as Speaker Boehner; but you are not going to get private enterprise to pony up $2.4 billion to replace this bridge on spec.  It is going to take government investment to modernize this vital component of our economic system. 

This is the exactly the type of infrastructure repair that the President is proposing in his American Jobs Act; critical projects that will revive the economy and put thousands of people to work. 

It is also another Obama proposal that Speaker Boehner has dismissed off hand.

So we have to ask…

Speaker Boehner, under which section of your four point plan does the Brent Spence get fixed?      

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