Republican “Duct Tape” Approach With Highway Bill Extension Will Force American’s to Play Russian Roulette with Every Deficient Bridge Crossed
Washington, D.C. (March 28, 2012) – LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – today stepped up its pressure on House Republicans to stop playing politics with the Highway Bill and adopt a bipartisan Senate bill that will preserve investment in bridges and highways, support jobs and protect motorists.
The union has been at the forefront of the effort to pass the Senate’s two-year bi-partisan effort with intensive radio ads in Ohio and Kentucky, direct mail and the use of its “Emergency Bridge Repair Team” truck. The 15-foot flatbed truck – carrying a giant roll of duct tape to symbolize the House Republican approach to caring for America’s bridges – began traveling to bridges in metro Washington, D.C.
“One in four bridges in the U.S. is structurally deficient or obsolete. The average bridge is 45 years old, dangerously close to the average bridge lifespan of 50 years,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “Yet Republicans in the House, led by Speaker John Boehner, are mired in political gamesmanship and blocking adoption of a bipartisan Senate solution. What they offer at best is a Highway Bill extension that is nothing more than duct tape for a bridge crisis that is threatening safety, jobs and our economy.”
The current Highway Bill expires March 31. The bill is the single-largest jobs-creating legislation in the nation and is mainly how highways, bridges and transit systems are built and maintained.
In early March, LIUNA began airing “London Bridge,” a radio ad in Kentucky and Ohio. In the ad, children sing “America’s bridges falling down” and call on House Speaker John Boehner to lead the effort to pass the bi-partisan Senate bill in the House. The union has also introduced “Russian Roulette,” a hard-hitting ad in Rep. Boehner’s district and other Ohio cities. The ad asks, “How many people do you imagine will have to die before we repair our crumbling infrastructure?”
In addition, LIUNA sent Ohio voters 90,000 pieces of direct mail, entitled “How to Survive A Collapsed Bridge: Inspired by Speaker of the House John Boehner.” The tongue-in-cheek piece provides both details on bridge deficiencies and guidance from the U.S. Army Survival Guide.
While the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis was a high-profile fatal tragedy, research shows that poor road conditions contribute to 53% of traffic fatalities – and surpasses speeding and drunk-driving as single largest variable in increasing the severity of crash injuries.
The Emergency Bridge Repair Truck Team will stop at several high-profile bridges, including the Key Bridge, the 14th Street Bridge over Maine Avenue and the Anacostia Freeway Bridge over Firth Sterling Avenue – all deficient bridges within the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.
LIUNA members will actually duct tape the bridge with tape carrying a sticker that says, “John Boehner: Fix This Bridge!”
O’Sullivan noted that several House Republicans have indicated support for the bi-partisan Senate Highway Bill and that it could likely pass the House with Democratic and Republican votes. He urged the Speaker to free himself from fringe tea party elements blocking passage of the Senate bill and to abandon the effort to write a partisan bill.
“That partisan effort has failed to gather enough support for more than a month and underscores the failure of the Republicans and their leadership,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s time to put one and one together – men and women who desperately need work and bridge repair that desperately needs to be done. Politicians preach about building bridges – how about just fixing some? If the House doesn’t pass the bi-partisan Senate bill, we’re going to need more than an entire fleet of duct tape trucks.”
You can follow the Emergency Bridge Repair Team truck on twitter @LIUNA and learn more about LIUNA’s effort at www.HighwayBill.org.