Michiganders Can’t Afford to Put the Brakes on Transportation Investments

It has been 959 days and counting and nine short-term extensions since Congress last passed a long-term transportation solution for America. Michiganders need a long-term transportation bill from Congress to remain economically competitive.

May 21, 2012

Jobs21! Coalition Rallies to Make Transportation Fixes in MI that Will Repair the Economy, Environment

LANSING, MI (May 21, 2012) Former Michigan Congressman and BlueGreen Alliance Jobs21! National Co-Chair Mark Schauer led a rally for transportation investments today in Lansing at the CATA Transportation Center in Lansing. It has been 959 days and counting and nine short-term extensions since Congress last passed a long-term transportation solution for America. For the over 43,000 Michiganders who work in highways and transit-related fields, the partisanship in Congress has caused uncertainty and stunted long term growth.

“Failing to fully fund our roads, rails and transit costs everyone more in the long-term,” said Mark Schauer. “When roads fall into disrepair, they cost even more to fix and similarly cost drivers more in traffic congestion and vehicle maintenance and repairs.”

Advocates in support of BlueGreen Alliance’s push for transportation investments including Frank Szollosi, the Regional Outreach Manager in the Midwest for the National Wildlife Federation; Katie Kelley, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Michigan Legislative Conference Board; and Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President of Government and Public Relations at the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) and Arcangelo Tucci, Operating Engineers Local 324 all joined Schauer in Lansing.

“Memorial Day weekend kicks off a key season for Michigan tourism — our lakes, parks, beaches, and resort communities rely on good roads and bridges to keep bringing people back,” said Szollosi. “43,000 Michigan jobs are tied up in a House and Senate conference committee as we speak. NWF is proud to join a broad coalition of business, labor, and Michigan community leaders in standing up and asking the Michigan delegation: Stop the games and pass a federal transportation funding bill that paves the way for critical highway and transit projects.”

The latest estimates show $1.5 billion is needed to fix Michigan roads alone. Without a long-term transportation bill, workers will be stuck on the bench, the state will become less economically competitive, and the environment will face greater impacts from pollution.

“There’s a lot of potential for transportation projects to employ thousands more people in construction and planning jobs in Michigan,” said Nystrom. “Approving these federal funds is a basic government function that obviously can put jobs in place immediately.”

Transportation accounts for two out of every three barrels of oil America uses, even small improvements add up over time in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and less pollution.

“ATU represents the bus drivers, rail operators, mechanics, station attendants and other support personnel who make safe, efficient, and affordable public transportation possible,” said Kelley. “Uncertain funding sources make it more difficult for us to do our jobs. We urge Congress to act without further delay.”

“Like millions of communities across the country, Greater Lansing’s work force, students, seniors and families rely on an efficient public bus system for access to critical services and to get around,” said Draggoo. “This freedom of mobility has far-reaching effects on the expansion, sustainability and vitality of our communities, both environmentally and economically.”

“Transportation and construction jobs are the lifeblood for many communities,” said Arcangelo Tucci, Operating Engineers Local 324. “These short-term extensions create too much uncertainty and have a tremendous negative impact locally that we can’t afford.”