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(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor today about the need to pass a federal transportation bill to fund critical highway and transit programs. Shaheen said the bill is critical to completing work on New Hampshire’s badly congested Interstate 93.  While a project to widen Interstate 93 is underway, it cannot be completed without the security of a long-term agreement.

Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Mr. President, we voted 85-11 to start work on the highway bill, an essential bill to reauthorize our highway and transit programs. 

868 days have passed since our last federal transportation bill expired.  That’s two years, four months, and 18 days. 

We need a new bill to help streamline federal programs, spur job creation, and move our transportation system into the 21st Century. 

This transportation bill is about infrastructure.  We call it infrastructure because “infra” means “below.”  It is the structure beneath everything else, the foundation of our lives.  Our businesses, our workers, our innovators – all of them rely on a system of quality infrastructure to succeed. 

More funding for transportation means more roads, buses, and railways to build and more jobs for construction and manufacturing workers.  More jobs for workers means more consumer spending, and a stronger overall economy. 

The Federal Highway Administration estimates that every $1 billion in highway spending supports more than 27,000 jobs. 

Economists at Moody’s estimate that for every dollar invested in infrastructure, our GDP goes up by $1.59, thanks to the ripple effect it produces in economic activity. 

This bill would help create one million American jobs, many of them in the construction industry, which has been one of the hardest hit by the recession.  

In New Hampshire the number of people working in the construction industry in 2010 was the lowest it’s been in a decade, 25 percent lower than it was in just 2006, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

We need to pass this bill to get those people back to work. 

One of the most important efforts in New Hampshire right now is the long overdue and badly needed widening of Interstate 93 in the southern tier of our state. 

I-93 is our state’s most important highway.  It connects New Hampshire’s citizens to their jobs, businesses to global markets, and communities to each other.  

And right now, this vital artery is badly clogged.  Every day 100,000 cars travel on a road designed for 60,000.  

This congestion wastes time and money.  

Crowding so many vehicles on I-93 is not only an inconvenience to the thousands who use it every day, but also compromises the safety of drivers travelling at highway speed in heavy traffic.  

The I-93 project was budgeted and planned based on the idea that the federal government would provide a consistent level of funding.  But the uncertainty created by the lack of a long-term highway bill has made the project difficult to finance. 

Right now, New Hampshire transportation officials have $115 million worth of bonding authority for this project sitting on the sidelines until the federal government makes good on its commitments.  

We need to create to move those funds off the sideline and get this project going. 

Laura Scott, the Economic Development Director for the Town of Windham, near the Massachusetts border, summed it up best, “The I-93 project is critical to the future economic vitality of Windham and all of southern New Hampshire.  Our businesses want it, our citizens want it, and we need to get it done.” 

The bill before us today can help complete this vital project and others like it. 

We need to work on this bill in a bipartisan fashion. 

We need to set aside the election year amendments and come together to do what’s right for our economy and our country.