Gray on Congress to institute a national infrastructure improvement program
10/19/2016 05:47 PM
COVINGTON – Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray has called for Congress to commit to a national infrastructure program to repair or build bridges, like the Brent Spence Bridge in northern Kentucky, improve rural highways and bring broadband access to the entire state.
Gray, who is running against Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, made the comments on Wednesday at an overlook in Covington’s Devou Park which offers a panoramic view of the Brent Spence Bridge below.
“To get the economy in the state moving in the right direction, we must make serious investments in both concrete and steel, paving and asphalt, as well as infrastructure in a modern economy,” Gray said. “Improving infrastructure also allows businesses to move their products and their workers around the state more easily, making Kentucky a place to build these new factories and facilities.”
In addition to the Brent Spence Bridge, which tops Gray’s priority list, other state signature projects on Gray’s list include: the Interstate 69 bridge between Henderson and Evansville, finishing and extending the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway, making the Hal Rogers Parkway a job creating corridor with four lanes from Hazard to Somerset, and the completion of the Interstate 75 southern corridor expansion to provide safety for drivers and accommodations for businesses.
Gray said one big problem is a trillion dollar gap in what the federal government has allocated for infrastructure and what is needed between now and 2020.
“We plan to spend 2.7 trillion (dollars), but the plans should call for 3.6 trillion,” Gray said. “While interest rates are low, this is a time that we should be making these investments.”
Gray believes that the importance of the Brent Spence Bridge to the national economy should be a reason why the federal government should make an investment in paying for improvements.
“The bridge moves four percent of the U.S. Gross National Product,” Gray said. “The Ohio Department of Transportation estimates that every year we defer maintenance on this bridge, it cost taxpayers $75 million.”
“My opponent has proposed drastic funding cuts to the Federal Highway Administration, and the Federal Transit Administration, and he has opposed legislation which would have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Kentucky,” Kasich said. “We cannot afford that kind of carelessness and disregard for issues that affect Kentuckians every day.”
In responding to Grays statement, the Paul campaign pointed out that in May 2016, Paul told a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter that he introduced an amendment to designate that any unspent foreign aid money, estimated to be between $8 billion and $9 billion, be used for domestic infrastructure including transportation projects like the Brent Spence Bridge which would be prioritized by need.
Gray says that historically, the federal government has come through with funding infrastructure improvements and sees no reason why that can’t happen during current times
“When you see that you’ve got a project that’s in such disrepair as this one, you know that you’ve got to elevate it, you got to be make sure that you do all you can and keep a lens on it all the time,” Paul said. “After World War II, we were at 118 percent debt to GDP. Today, we are less than that significantly.”
If elected, Gray says that he wants to look at cutting waste and promote smart spending of taxpayer money.
Tolling is something that Gray says would not be likely.
“Well, I agree with others who have said it’s a last resort,” Gray said. “What we should be doing is focusing on how we should be doing is cut waste where it is not necessary.”
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