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Oberstar: Road construction jobs abound, thanks to stimulus

The federal stimulus spending is responsible for thousands of road construction jobs in Minnesota and around the country, says U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Oberstar toured a highway project in Bemidji recently — a $24 million reconstruction of Hwy. 71 that includes a new Hwy. 2 bypass bridge — and told the Bemidji Pioneer that stimulus money has paid for 35,400 lane miles of highway projects nationally, as well as 12,065 bridges. 

He told the paper:

“It means 1.3 million construction jobs. All of that is documented with billions of hours of work in each state. On top of that, $609 million in taxes paid by those workers directly on job sites. And $535 million in unemployment compensation checks avoided because they’re getting a paycheck and not being paid for not working.”

Also, stimulus funds bought 12,500 transit buses and rail cars, he said. “New Flyer in St. Cloud put at least 300 people back to work building buses.”

Oberstar also said he was disappointed that the Obama administration pushed back a five-year transportation package into the next congressional term.

“My expectation is, after the election, jitters will calm down and everybody will know what the landscape is, maybe we can do it in December,” Oberstar said. The $450 billion package includes a 10- to 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike, phased in over several years.

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Tim Brausen on 08/23/2010 - 06:13 pm.

    Congressman Oberstar’s proposed reorganization of the Department of Transportation, including a phased in gasoline tax increase (the first in 20+ years) will re-orient transportation policy in this country. It promises to bring much needed streamlining, reducing 108 different programs into 4 main areas: Critical Asset Preservation [roads, bridges]; Highway Safety Improvement; Surface Transportation Programs; and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement, and will bring efficiencies to the system.

    It will be coordinate planning at regional levels (instead of communities currently fighting over highway funds at the state DOT level) so that our transportation and transit systems make some sense. Instead of bridges to nowhere, because your local representative can claim the dollars based on his power, we will could have a system designed based upon community needs throughout regions. We share transportation systems regionally and have to coordinate those systems at that level.

    We need this transportation re-authorization law to be considered and passed. It will immediately start saving money for all of us, in the form of more efficiency, less congestion, better roads and bridges, and intelligent design.

    This will all be paid for with a user tax, the increased gas tax. I’m willing to pay my fair share to have good transportation. So is the commercial trucking industry, and business, which is why the Chamber of Commerce and others support the increase in the gas tax.

    We need the Obama administration to lead on this important issue. And our local representatives and Senators should also be supporting Rep. Oberstar’s efforts!

  2. Submitted by Mohammed Ali Bin Shah on 08/23/2010 - 10:25 pm.

    There Jim goes, buying votes with my money. These so called 1.3M jobs, if they exit, were only pulled froward from projects that were to be done in the near future. Once they are done, then what? They are certainly not permanent. Will we see the huge collapse like we did after the cash for clunkers program? Will we see the huge collapse like we did after the $8000 home credit went away? Pulling things forward from the enar future justleaves a big hole in the future.

  3. Submitted by Mohammed Ali Bin Shah on 08/23/2010 - 10:28 pm.

    Tim,

    Nice talking points. Did they come directly from the Oberstar web site?

    Let me ask, is it fair that my GAS taxes pay for bike paths? How about an annual excise tax on bicycles to pay for it all, since you seem to want the “users” of transportation to pay their fair share.

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