Mr. TONKO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to implore my colleagues to abandon their my-way-or-the-highway approach to the job-creating highway bill currently in conference. We cannot afford to kick the can down the road again.
During the recent recession, 1.9 million jobs were lost in the construction sector. There are still about 1.4 million unemployed construction workers. But reauthorizing a long-term highway bill, as is encouraged by the President, would begin to fix this problem.
In my district alone, 25 years ago, on April 5, 1987, the Thruway bridge collapsed at 10:50 a.m. on a Sunday morning near Fort Hunter, New York. Ten people died. They included three men returning from a bowling tournament, a mother and a daughter heading to a baby shower, two Shriners, a married couple driving to Texas, and a truck driver heading to Wisconsin. The cause was failure to properly maintain the bridge.
No price can be put on the lives that were suddenly ended that very tragic day, but their memory should serve as a stark reminder that our failure here has real, painful, life-taking consequences.
Let's move forward and invest in America's infrastructure--to put construction workers back on the job, to help businesses grow, and to keep our drivers and truckers safe.