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Hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee: Investing in Infrastructure: the Road to Recovery


Location: Washington, DC

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REP. LAURA RICHARDSON (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm pleased to join you and Ranking Member Mica and the rest of my colleagues today as we examine the impact of transportation employment stimulus from the federal government that could provide really a shot in the arm to our economy and to the job market. There's no more important issue facing Congress, and I think thank you for holding this timely hearing today.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, this is not the first time the House has traveled down this road. As far back as FDR's administration and the 54th Congress, they worked on creating the Works Progress Administration to create construction jobs and to stimulate the economy in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Just last month we passed a job creations package here in Congress. Unfortunately, though, the Senate and the administration did not support its passage and the effort for hard-working Americans failed.

Now it's time to take a second bite at that apple. To combat this trend, the Congress has to act responsibly and to act now. We know that for every $1 billion spent on transportation infrastructure projects, it creates over 35,000 jobs. There are thousands of highway projects that can be undertaken that many of us have alluded to this morning. Specifically, in my district, the Southern California Association of Governments, also known as SCAG, which is mandated by the federal government to research and draw up plans to address the region's transportation needs, has transportation initiatives in aviation, goods movement and corridor planning, amongst many others, that could really impact our transportation planning.

SCAG has identified 58 state highway projects and over 200 transit projects listed for LA County alone. These projects are proposed over a six-year period and can provide a steady source of employment for our region. I can tell you unequivocally that without significant public funding the bridges and roads critical to our competitiveness will surely decay if we don't make the commitment now.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, it's no secret unemployment is on the rise. In my district there are some portions that are as high as 14 percent. A new bold economic recovery plan is critical. The best investment has been and will continue to be for America to get Americans working again.

I thank you for your time.

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REP. RICHARDSON : Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was looking at your testimony, Mr. Dacota. And as I was looking at the investment that you're asking from an aviation perspective, what would you describe would be the most critical project that would need to be done of airports across the country? And I saw your reference to, for example, -- (inaudible) -- the air traffic control system, but I am looking for specific infrastructure benefits that you would say would help this country.

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REP. RICHARDSON : I recently flew from Washington D.C. to LaGuardia, and once they got everyone on the plane, we kind of pulled out and they, like, told us, they kind of pulled us off to the side and we sat there for probably at least an hour and a half. And what I was surprised at is that most of the people who were flying there said that that's a regular occurrence.

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REP. RICHARDSON: Mr. Chairman, much of the discussion and the information we've received talked a lot about funding for ready-to-go projects. But this particular example, I'm hoping, as we roll out whatever conditions are going to be included in the stimulus, that there also is some sort of check off that needs to be, that these projects, in addition to being ready-to-go, they also should meet a need of our constituency as well, meaning there are more projects than we could ever imagine that we would want to do at this point, and we're not going to be able to do. So, if we are going to fund, for example, funding for airports, we need to make sure that if they get funding, it's something that's going to translate back to the end users and how they will benefit, and not just another project that needs to get done. So I don't know if we're going to have, you know, various chapters, or certain amount of points for each area, but I would hope that there would be some indicators to really push that the results will benefit the end user.

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