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Obama Urged to Take Leading Role in Plans to Upgrade Infrastructure

April 15, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Two high-profile governors, California's Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pennsylvania's Edward G. Rendell, have reportedly sent a memo to President Obama, urging him to exercise more leadership in drafting a plan to repair the nation's aging highways, bridges and ports. 

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Rendell in particular said he was concerned that if Congress plays the leading role in the plan, a prevalence of earmarks and other narrowly focused spending priorities could compromise the plan's effectiveness. 

Last month, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with Schwarzenegger and Rendell, met with Obama to discuss their concerns. Bloomberg, Schwarzenegger and Rendell all chair a coalition called Building America's Future, which promotes upgrading the nation's public works system. 

A 2009 report card issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a D grade to the nation's infrastructure. The group declared that more than one-quarter of U.S. bridges are either "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete." The report card also indicated that poor road conditions cost motorists $67 billion a year in repairs and operating costs.

The group estimated that it would take an investment of $1.1 trillion more than is planned over the next five years to bring the infrastructure up to good condition. 

In the coming months, Congress is expected to consider a bill to set aside as much as $450 billion for highway and other infrastructure projects over a period of six years.


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