Vice President Biden: ‘Ohio is the Heart of the Industrial Might’

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CLEVELAND – Vice President Joe Biden called for future investment in infrastructure during a visit to the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Rail Complex. The Vice President spoke on Wednesday at East 73rd and Grand Avenue.

“Our workforce is the most productive in the world and Ohio, Ohio has historically produced the most productive workers in the world,” said the Vice President. "It’s been the engine, the heart of the industrial might.”

While in Cleveland, the Vice President highlighted the investment already made by RTA with the University Circle-Little Italy Rapid Station that is currently under construction with the help of government funds.

The estimated $17.5 million project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2015. The new RTA station is being moved a few blocks south, to Mayfield Road and East 119th Street. Once open, it will be called the Little Italy-University Circle Rapid Station.

“I’m very excited about the federal dollars being used there and it’s gonna be great for all the people who ride the rapid,” said Demetrius Gorham from Cleveland Heights.

Vice President Biden called for a bipartisan bill focused on fixing America’s highways and bridges. "Invest in rebuilding America, invest in our infrastructure, trains, road, bridges, canals, airport.”

According to democrats, including Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, failure by Congress to pass a new transportation bill will put thousands of construction jobs at risk in Ohio and elsewhere.

“Infrastructure investments helped attract the workers, business, and investments that made America a superpower,” Sen. Brown said in a media release. “However for far too long we have sat by and watched it crumble. By rebuilding our bridges and roads we strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness, bolster our local communities, and ensure thousands of hardworking Ohioans remain on the job rebuilding our country.  The Vice President’s visit to Ohio underscores the importance of passing a long-term infrastructure bill.”

The Obama administration is warning Congress that a key federal government fund used to pay for the nation's roads, bridges and ports is running out of money and the White House warned the economy would be damaged if it is not replenished.

“We cannot fail to invest in infrastructure,” said Vice President Biden, “because if we do - if we invest – there’s faster growth; there’s better jobs; there’s greater productivity; there’s more attraction to business around the world to come to Cleveland and to America to invest and provide those jobs.”

A White House economic analysis concludes that without congressional action, more than 112,000 ongoing projects would be in danger of falling idle, affecting nearly 700,000 jobs. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that such project delays would slow commerce, hinder commuters and hurt businesses. The administration said the Highway Trust Fund, which is financed by gasoline taxes, could run out of money by the end of summer.

“My two passions are infrastructure and educations so I’m glad he was able to come here and touch on infrastructure. It’s much needed; it’s created jobs; it’s created opportunities,” said Joshua Perkins-McHamm, a contractor who is working on the new RTA project.

According to numbers confirmed by FOX 8 News from the Federal Highway Administration, Ohio has more than 2,000 bridges currently considered “structurally deficient” by the FHA. The bridges are located in all 88 counties. According to the FHA, a “structurally deficient” bridge is safe but needs to be repaired, monitored closely or have weight restrictions so it doesn’t become unsafe for public travel.

Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee in Washington, D.C., told FOX 8 News in a statement, “If Vice President Biden is looking for a shovel-ready project, one easy place the Administration could start is by ending its obstruction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which has bipartisan support and would create good-paying Ohio jobs.”

The RNC also said the Obama Administration already tried to fix the country’s infrastructure with a “failed” $830 billion stimulus.

Republicans have supported the Canada-to-Texas pipeline, while Democrats remain deeply divided on the issue.