May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama to GOP: Tear down this bridge, and pay for a new one

Tarrytown, New York (CNN) – Saying that rebuilding America "shouldn't be a partisan issue," President Obama tackled the dense issue of federal infrastructure spending Wednesday. He called on Republicans in Congress to "not fight on something we all know makes sense."

Obama took Republicans to task several times for not approving funds that would replenish the nation's Highway Trust Fund, which could run out of money late this summer.

He said states are already cutting back on projects because of the uncertainty, and that thousands of good-paying construction jobs are in jeopardy as a result. If Congress does not, "act by the end of the summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out," Obama said. "There will be no money, the cupboard will be bare."

Obama told Republicans that if they didn't want to listen to him, maybe they should listen to some past GOP leaders.

"My favorite president happens to have been a Republican - a guy named Abraham Lincoln in my home state of Illinois." He added "it was Lincoln who committed to a railroad connecting East to West, even while he was struggling mightily to hold together North and South. It was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System. It was Ronald Reagan who said that rebuilding our infrastructure is 'an investment in tomorrow that we must make today'.”

The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop. The bridge is in the process of being replaced by a new span, and is one of several so-called fast track projects that the President used as an example of success stories he would like to see repeated across the country.

In that vein, Obama also announced an executive action to streamline infrastructure permitting at the federal level, and unveiled plans to fast-track 11 projects across the country.

"We're releasing a new plan for 11 more projects to accelerate from Boston South Station to Pensacola Bay Bridge, to new light rail projects north and south of Seattle," he said, adding that his order would cut "bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground."

The push comes as the federal Highway Trust Fund is rapidly dwindling, setting up a so-called "transportation cliff" toward the end of August. Fueled by gasoline taxes, the fund hasn't been able to keep up with spending demands as Americans spend less on fuel.

Meanwhile, America's highways and bridges - and other critical parts of the nation's transportation infrastructure such as railways - need serious upgrades and repairs. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+ in terms of condition and performance.

In Washington, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California put forward a transportation bill earlier this week in the Senate that has received some Republican support. But there has been little support in the Republican-controlled House.

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus responded to the President's criticism, saying, "We already tried President Obama's effort to fix our country's infrastructure through his failed $830 billion stimulus. If the President is looking for a shovel-ready project, then he can get moving on the Keystone Pipeline which will create thousands of American jobs."

Wednesday evening the President attends two Democratic Party fundraisers in New York. On Thursday he is scheduled to address the dedication ceremony at the 9-11 Museum in New York City, before returning to Washington.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak and Dana Davidsen contributed to this story.


Filed under: New York • President Obama
soundoff (668 Responses)
  1. Truthful1

    President Out of touch with Reality Obama...If you are so enthusiastic a bout Transportation, then stop blocking Permits to produce, Oil, and Natural Gas while we expand Solar Technology making it affordable with American Companies that are not tied to the Democrat Party lining the pockets of the likes of Radical Dems like Al Gore....Then you can reverse the 100% increase in Gasoline Prices, Gasoline we need to run our freaking Cars Mr President, who really doesn't give a damn a bout our environment that he knows nothing about but cow-towing to Liberals to get the votes out at mid-term elections. Dems losing the Senate to the GOP, and the Republicans picking up more Seats in the House is the only Transportation that Obama, and the Dems are going to see is the GOP Train that has already left the Station poised to own both Bodies of Congress in 2014.

    May 14, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  2. G24U

    If these were "Toll" projects that would out-right sell our nations infrastructure to private corporations, you couldn't stop the stampede of Republicans pushing to get these projects funded in Congress. Y'all in Texas & Indiana know that for a fact because that's what they have been doing in those States for the last ten years.

    May 14, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  3. Realist

    Maybe we could divert the taxpayer's money he is using to change Manning into a eunuch?

    May 14, 2014 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  4. Robert

    People, its sad having worked and traveled to China for almost 10 years, starting in 2002, before private car ownership, I saw a country go from ALMOST NO highways, to by 2009 having MORE pave interstate miles than us. with plans to double that by 2020! Building the largest system of high-speed rail in the world and still growing. there is now a Chinese proposal for international high speed, yes, China-Russa- New York, and China-London. They spend almost 100billion us on their rail systems alone. They are building and rebuilding their freight rail system so that the trains will run a average of 45mph, vs US at 15, for greater efficiency, moving goods around. It takes amost 2 days for a freight train to cross Chicago, because the rails are co crowed. Sad. when they were rebuilding the airport at Beijing before the Olympics i counted 64 in sets of 4 building cranes constructing the new terminals. At the time 3/4 of the worlds cranes were in China building! I am no saying their system is better, but their focus is to make their county the best for ALL, and not the few, and to be proud of what they are, where as all we do is fight over stupid crap, and to them and the russian's are GREED makes us weak, will be risk a war over profits, or our word. Our greed makes us weak and divide.

    May 14, 2014 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  5. wxp

    vote to kick all GOP out and then we can solve the problem.

    May 14, 2014 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  6. superjacked58

    Instead of going into more debt, allow private companies to build new bridges and toll them. The reality for America is they need to pay to travel. I dont really feel like going into debt for bridges I wont use.

    May 14, 2014 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  7. reconmarine

    Obama spent $40 million dollars on ONE vacation last month. That might have filled a few cracks in the pavement.

    May 14, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. puddintane

    Dems want to get rid of streets and have us take the bus to work, save us billiions

    May 14, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  9. Mark H.

    Everyone should go check out Solar Roadways. The plan is for all asphalt roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etc. to be replaced by new modular solar panel technology that is sturdy enough to prevent pot holes, will melt ice and snow, and can eliminate the physical grid by powering every corner of the country. It's an awesome idea that could transform our transportation system, reinvent how the nation is powered, cut carbon emissions by 75%, and create an economic boom through infrastructure in the United States. They've already received 2 contracts from the FHA and they also have an Indiegogo funding campaign going right now to begin the next step, which is to build a 100% solar parking lot. I highly recommend that you all look into this amazing innovation. 🙂

    May 14, 2014 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  10. Loathstheright

    Obama – Change in deficit 4 years: -$718,579,435,139
    Obama – Change in deficit 3 years: -$508,466,816,017
    G.W.Bush – Change in deficit 8 years: +$942,084,796,300
    Clinton – Change in deficit 8 years: -$173,243,852,209
    G.H.W. Bush – Change in deficit 4 years: +$50,010,462,991
    Reagan – Change in deficit 8 years: +$123,646,173,522

    Just for all of the vilest American conservatives ignoring facts about who created the deficit.

    May 14, 2014 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Hansey

    The Interstate Bridge that links Oregon and Washington state on Interstate 5, north of Portland, OR, is in DIRE need of a replacement, but the Republicans in the Washington state legislature defeated a bill to fund a new bridge. I would hate to be on that bridge if it ever crumbles down.

    May 14, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  12. Jessica McGwin

    MR PRESIDENT no more fingers. always speak with your hands open. If you want to speak with your body and be heard your hands must be open pointing in the direction of the ausiacne routaiting from the center of the body out. At the pinical of your statement your hands should firmly come to rest at 10 and 2 shoulders back spine aligned eyes forward. Hire a def guy to teach you sing langue. If you want both parties to respond to body posture than do as I say. Find one that teaches divers. Work with him or her for 6 weeks. You have till the 20 th to hire one. I'll keep time by june 16th I expect to see difference. By July 17 I expect to see the impact of effort.

    May 14, 2014 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  13. Lewis

    Obama is right. The republicans need to start passing bills to fix this country. All of this obstruction is insanity.

    May 14, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  14. Robert

    Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus responded to the President's criticism, saying, "We already tried President Obama's effort to fix our country's infrastructure through his failed $830 billion stimulus. If the President is looking for a shovel-ready project, then he can get moving on the Keystone Pipeline which will create thousands of American jobs."

    So in other words.
    The hell with those roads and bridges.
    I don't have to travel on them.
    Can't see them from my house.
    Nice.

    May 14, 2014 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  15. garwin1

    Real Patriots don't need roads and bridges.

    May 14, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  16. dannylee885

    The reason the infrastructure is crumbling is because we've been throwing money at social problems for decades instead of putting it somewhere useful: roads and bridges.

    May 14, 2014 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  17. ICBEYONDU

    Hey Obama, you didn't build squat!

    May 14, 2014 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  18. elucidated1

    Uh, Priebus lies again. The Keystone Pipeline will ultimately create 240 full time jobs. The constructon will not need "thousands " of workers to build it, either. But very nice try.

    May 14, 2014 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  19. Jocho Johnson

    Well Obama stop handing over bags of cash to al-Qaeda and you'll have money to fix roads

    May 14, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  20. Jocho Johnson

    Well Obama stop handing over bags of cash to the Kiev Junta and you'll have money to fix roads

    May 14, 2014 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  21. Big_D

    The GOP has probably declared war on our bridges now. If Obama's for it they are against it. NO MORE BRIDGES on FOX tomorrow. That or they will say private industry would be a better solution so they can charge you every time you cross.

    May 14, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  22. Dennis from TX

    So Obamacare = net job loss and Highway Trust Fund Plan = net job creation.
    Are we good now? Craziness!

    May 14, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  23. blakenaustin

    Sorry Mr. Obama. No new spending. None. Nada. Without equal cuts now. Not next decade. Not next year. Preferably to out of control entitlement programs.

    May 14, 2014 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  24. RHReese

    Now the blame game. This rotten President doesn't even know what the people of the US wants. He is all talk, always has been.

    May 14, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  25. Jo

    I-85 on the outskirts of Atlanta, has been two lane FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE, and I am not a young man anymore. People regularly sit in traffic every single day on it. I hate to think about the cumulative lost wages and productivity over the last 40 years, that could be avoided by adding one simple lane. There is plenty of grass right of way, and a giant paved median that one could drive on today, if that were allowed.

    It is simply not a priority for the government to keep traffic moving. I seriously doubt any more "funding" will change this lack of will one iota.

    May 14, 2014 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
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