U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today called on Congress to pass the transportation portion of the American Jobs Act during a visit to the Bridgeport-Norristown Viaduct outside Philadelphia, a century-old passenger rail bridge that is among the hundreds of pieces of transportation infrastructure across Pennsylvania in serious need of upgrades and repairs. The investments made under the transportation portion of the American Jobs Act could put hundreds of thousands of people to work in Pennsylvania and around the country, renovating and rebuilding our roads, rails and runways.
"There's no such thing as a Democratic or Republican bridge, and there's no such thing as a Democratic or Republican job when it comes to rebuilding our aging infrastructure," said Secretary LaHood, who was joined by state and local officials. "Congress needs to pass the transportation portion of the American Jobs Act as soon as possible so we can continue to modernize our transportation systems and keep our economy moving forward."
The transportation piece of President Obama's American Jobs Act would make an immediate investment of $50 billion in America's transportation infrastructure and put people back to work upgrading 150,000 miles of road, laying or maintaining 4,000 miles of train tracks, restoring 150 miles of runways, and putting in place a next-generation air-traffic control system that will reduce travel time and delays.
The President's legislation would also make a $10 billion investment to create a nonpartisan National Infrastructure Bank that would operate independently and issue loans for major transportation and infrastructure projects based on two criteria: how badly a road, bridge, transit, water, or energy project is needed and how much good it would do for the economy. These investments would also be paid for without adding a dime to the deficit; resources would come from a balanced deficit reduction plan that includes closing corporate tax loopholes and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.
The Jobs Act would invest $50 billion in crucial transportation projects, including about $1.4 billion for projects across Pennsylvania. As part of that $1.4 billion, Pennsylvania would receive $384.2 million in much-needed federal transit assistance that could be used to repair and rehabilitate infrastructure such as the Bridgeport Viaduct that Sec. LaHood visited today, which was built by the Philadelphia and Western Railroad a century ago in 1911.
The 3,175-foot bridge carries approximately 24,000 Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) Norristown High Speed Line passengers over the Schuylkill River in Montgomery County each month. The viaduct also connects passengers to the Norristown Transportation Center, a major intermodal transfer point that's also served by eight local bus routes and the Manayunk/Norristown commuter rail line, as well as inter-city bus service.
"Southeastern Pennsylvania, home to some of the oldest transit infrastructure in the nation, is in need of a 21st Century overhaul," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff. "Passing the American Jobs Act will put nearly a thousand Pennsylvanians to work rehabilitating the Bridgeport-Norristown viaduct alone, modernizing the Jenkintown power substation, or upgrading the Levittown Station on the Trenton Line, giving hundreds of thousands of SEPTA riders a more reliable and desirable commute to work each day."
The transportation investments made under the American Jobs Act include:
- $27 billion for rebuilding roads and bridges
- $9 billion for repairing bus and rail transit systems
- $5 billion for innovative large-scale projects selected through a competitive national grant program
- $4 billion to continue constructing America's high-speed rail network
- $2 billion for improving airport facilities
- $2 billion for upgrades to Amtrak equipment, cars, and stations
- $1 billion to put in place NextGen air traffic control system