Obama, Biden call for infrastructure investment

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden pushed for transportation infrastructure investment during their respective trips to New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge and Ohio’s Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority this week.

While at the site of the $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge project in Tarrytown, New York, Obama urged Congress to pass the administration’s $302 billion, four-year bill, Newsday reports.

He proposed the bill in February, and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx presented the bill to Congress last month.

During his trip, Obama also unveiled plans to expedite projects such as the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. He noted that a similar action brought the bridge’s permitting process from 3-5 years down to 1 1/2 years.

The president also called for more infrastructure investment, pointing out that “building a world class transportation system is one of the reasons America became an economic superpower in the first place,” according to Newsday.

While Obama was in New York pushing for transportation investment, Biden was doing the same while visiting the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in Cleveland, Ohio.

Much like Obama, Biden mentioned the effects of transportation on the nation’s economy, Ohio.com reports.

He pointed to an ASCE report that notes the U.S. will need to invest $3.6 trillion in infrastructure by 2020 to maintain existing facilities.

However, he pointed out that nation isn’t investing nearly what is needed. The U.S. only spends 1 percent of its gross domestic product on infrastructure, Biden said, and ranks 18th globally for the quality of its highways.

“Those in Congress who lack vision say we can’t afford to make these investments,” Biden said in the report. “How can we not afford to make these investments?”

After both trips, the White House shared a blog about the importance of rebuilding highways and bridges in the U.S.

The blog notes that 65 percent of U.S. “are rated in less than good condition” and about 25 percent of the nation’s bridges “need significant repair or can’t handle today’s traffic.” Also noted is the 700,000 jobs that are at risk if federal transportation funding runs out.

Visit WhiteHouse.gov to read the full blog, which includes an infographic outlining what could happen if Congress doesn’t reauthorize transportation spending before the current highway bill, MAP-21, expires on September 30.