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Dec
2011
15

LIUNA, Sioux City Officials Rally for Infrastructure Spending



6,600 Iowa bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and LIUNA is rallying to fix them. Iowans need better roads and unemployed Iowans need new jobs. LIUNA wants to point out the obvious: that these two truths go hand in hand.

The case for infrastructure spending has been made around the country. It employs people in many different industries from engineers to laborers to flagmen. The modernized roads then help businesses by making for more efficient distribution. From a FOX44 story in Sioux Falls:

“Investment in highway infrastructure is a priority,” says Kim Trigs, Vice President and General Manager of Godbersen-Smith Construction of Ida Grove, Iowa.

The group’s hoping congress passes a new highway bill. They say it would boost the economy and get back some of the 12,000 construction jobs Iowa’s lost since 2008.

“Good roads spur economic development, everyone here knows that,” says Triggs. “In addition the highway construction dollar turns over a local economy through wages paid to construction workers as well as equipment and materials purchased.”

A new highway bill would not only create new opportunities but would sure up funding for current projects with futures in flux. This is a situation currently affecting Sioux Falls as there are concerns about the future of the half completed 1-29 project:

“We don’t want to have to stop this project, we don’t want to have to stop Highway 20,” says Sioux City Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Padgett. “We want these things to continue, they mean safety for Iowans, they mean jobs for Iowans, and it means economic development.”

Also being considered is the safety of the citizens who travel daily across Iowa’s 6,600 structurally deficient or “functionally obsolete” bridges. No one wants to see a situation like Minnesota saw where the 1-35 Mississippi River Bridge collapsed in August of 2007.

“I’m sure this bridge isn’t going to collapse in the next couple of days but it still needs to be fixed,” says Richie Schmidt, with the Great Plains Laborers District Council. “Because if it’s not fixed when will it collapse or when is it going to do damage to somebody’s car?”

Citizens pushing to rebuild Iowa’s highways and bridges, which some hope will help build a better future.

The union’s also launching a billboard campaign throughout the state; you’ll be seeing one right along I-29 soon.

There are actually two highway bills out there right now. The senate has a bill that would see steady investment for two years; the house has a bill that would cut funding by about 30%.

The union supports the senate bill.

Part of Monday’s demonstration was just to bring awareness of this issue to GOP Presidential candidates before Thursday’s debate.

Highway funding has become a contentious subject between the two parties in the past few years and things do not seem to be simmering down. Once upon a time, infrastructure investment was thought of as a centrist, bi-partisan idea. Now, Republicans are painting it as something that only profits unions and can’t be afforded because of the manufactured debt crisis. Many Americans, particularly unemployed construction trades workers, want to see party differences settled as soon as possible, in the name of safety and employment.

RELATED: Sioux City LIUNA Members Rally for Highway Bill, Answers from Republican Candidates on Plans to Build America

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