Laborers dispatch bridge debris-mangled bus prop for highway funding campaign

Source: Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Washington, D.C.; CP staff

Under a “Getting Schooled in Infrastructure” banner, organized labor’s most proactive voice for federal transportation investment has kicked off a six-week tour of 22 cities and Congressional districts, a bridge debris-bearing school bus leading the charge.

The tour began at a shuttered Interstate 495 bridge in Wilmington, Del., and continues to Philadelphia, Allentown, Chambersburg, Hollidaysburg, Altoona and Pittsburgh, Pa. Through the summer the bus is scheduled to travel Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia and Maryland, concluding its journey in Washington, D.C.

The school bus and bridge debris prop reinforce a LIUNA campaign pressing Congress to pass a well-funded, long-term highway bill this year. “It’s time to stop sugar-coating this issue,” says General President Terry O’Sullivan. “We are not trying to scare people, but we are trying to wake people and Congress up.”

The Highway Trust Fund provides the largest share of transportation investment for most states, but is projected to approach a zero balance later this summer. Without Congressional action, it will completely stop dispersing road and bridge funds by October 1, the start of the federal government’s 2015 fiscal. A key reason the Highway Trust Fund is in crisis is because the federal 18.4 cent/gallon gasoline tax has not been adjusted for 21 years—a period during which rising construction materials costs and vehicle fuel efficiency gains have resulted in a 40 percent drop in federal transportation dollar buying power.

“Congress has multiple, viable options to consider,” O’Sullivan explains. “But it is time to act. The most reliable, tested investment resource for our roads and bridges is the gas tax and adjusting it will give Americans what they want and need—safer roads and bridges in their states and communities.”

LIUNA joins a broad-based coalition of transportation and business groups encouraging Congress to adjust the gas tax, AAA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Building America’s Future among them. In addition to the bus tour, LIUNA radio ads urging Congress to act are running in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, and billboards will continue to go up in each state ahead of deficient bridges or on deteriorating roadways. Motorists and concerned citizens are directed to and, where they can learn more and easily send messages to their members of Congress.