WASHINGTON (AP) — With time running out, the White House was preparing to press Congress next week to keep money flowing into a federal fund for road and bridge repairs, warning of economic harm, lost aid to states and idled construction workers unless lawmakers act.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said the federal Highway Trust Fund is expected run dry by late August. Without congressional action, transportation aid to states will be delayed and workers will be laid off at construction sites nationwide, Foxx said.
To that end, the White House will spend next week highlighting the issue and pressing for action. In contrast to President Barack Obama's 2014 goal to act without Congress wherever he can, the highway funding issue is not one he can solve on his own.
On Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to speak in front of the crumbling Tappan Zee Bridge, a major Hudson River crossing north of New York City, to press for action. A replacement is currently being built for the nearly 60-year-old, 3-mile span at a cost of $3.9 billion, largely financed by bonds that will be paid for through higher bridge tolls.
In New York, Obama will also highlight steps the administration has taken to cut red tape, modernize the federal permitting process and reduce the timelines for approving projects, assistant White House press secretary Matt Lehrich said Saturday.
On Friday, the president plans to discuss infrastructure with workers in the Washington area.
Vice President Joe Biden will also be involved. On Tuesday, he is to tour a project in St. Louis where a pedestrian bridge is being built over Interstate 70 to make it easier and safer for people to get to the Gateway Arch. Then on Wednesday he heads to Cleveland, where an obsolete transit station is being replaced with a new, more energy efficient building. Both projects are federally funded.
The White House plans to open the week by releasing an analysis on Monday on the need to pay for these types of repairs and upgrades.