Today in Tampa, Fla., President Obama is announcing $8 billion in high-speed rail grants that will save or create tens of thousands of jobs in areas like track-laying, manufacturing, planning and engineering.
Edward Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD), says the commitment to develop high-speed rail “couldn’t come at a better time.”
Investing in America’s passenger transportation systems and infrastructure not only builds a lasting contribution to future generations of travelers, it puts people to work at a time when so many Americans are jobless.
In his State of the Union message last night, Obama pointed to rebuilding the nation’s transportation infrastructure as a vital component of a blueprint to create jobs and boost the overall economy.
We can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains or the new factories that manufacture clean-energy products….There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation’s goods, services and information.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act includes awards of $2.25 billion for California, $1.25 billion for Florida and $2.6 billion for 24 projects in the Midwest, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. A total of 31 states and the District of Columbia will receive high-speed rail grants, including money for planning and development for future rail lines. Those projects, says Wytkind,
will not only create transportation and construction jobs, but it will also boost American manufacturing jobs if our government vigorously enforces domestic content requirements. This new investment in passenger rail presents a historic opportunity for U.S. manufacturing to seize and flourish.
He also urged lawmakers on Capitol Hill to craft and pass a jobs bill that invests in aviation, mass transit, highway, and passenger and freight rail, maritime and port infrastructure.