The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
On behalf of the 32 affiliated unions of the Transportation Trades Department AFL-CIO (TTD), I urge you to include significant transportation investments in any jobs bill that the House of Representatives may consider. We appreciate your lifelong devotion to working men and women and hope that you will once again advance legislation that creates jobs and boosts the declining economy.
As evidenced by the experience since enactment of the historic economic recovery legislation, transportation investments have a proven track record of quickly putting Americans to work in good jobs. In fact, while the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) only directed 4 percent of its funds to transportation infrastructure, about 25 percent of the 640,000 jobs directly saved or created to date were the result of these targeted transportation investments. With these investments, the transit and highway sectors have created or saved 210,000 direct jobs and these numbers do not include downstream jobs in the service, manufacturing and other sectors. Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released a report that found the transportation provisions of the Recovery Act were among the very best in boosting GDP. It is also significant that the U.S. Department of Transportation has far outpaced the performance of other federal agencies by obligating over 70 percent of the funds available.
The need for a jobs bill is clear. While the actions of the President and Congress earlier this year helped to avoid an economic disaster, we still face the worst economy in 70 years. More than 25 million Americans are suffering. The jobless rate is still above 10 percent and close to 20 percent of workers are unemployed or underemployed.
Like the broader economy, the transportation system and its workers are being directly affected by this recession. Mass transit agencies across the nation are actually cutting service and laying-off workers even while experiencing steady ridership growth. Transit systems need an immediate infusion of operating funds to forestall at least some impending cuts as well as flexibility in the use of capital funds. Unemployment in construction has reached almost 19 percent, with total job losses at 1.6 million over the two years of this recession.
Across the country, transportation infrastructure projects are in the pipeline and ready to go. But states, localities and other public entities lack the funds they need to spur job creation. Congress should use a jobs package to invest in these projects and our long-term national economic interest. There are 7,500 highway and bridge projects worth $47.3 billion that can be started within 120 days; $15 billion in public transportation projects that can launch within 90 days to create and sustain over 450,000 jobs; almost $2 billion in aviation; $3.5 billion in rail; almost $600 million in port improvements; and over $6 billion in intermodal projects. Moreover, estimates show that these investments will create thousands of additional private sector jobs in manufacturing. These proposals all hold the promise of fast and significant job creation and should be included in any jobs bill.
In a time when millions of Americans are still jobless, transportation investments create jobs quickly and stimulate the economy immediately. Spending in this sector provides substantial long-term benefits to our nation and economy. We strongly urge you to include a significant transportation provision in the House jobs bill.
cc: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
Chairman David Obey
Chairman James Oberstar