Vice President Joe Biden visits Cleveland Wednesday to push transportation funding plan

CLEVELAND - Vice President Joe Biden is marking Infrastructure Week with a stop in Cleveland Wednesday as part of the administration’s push to pressure Congress to address the nation’s national transportation funding crisis.

Biden will highlight the new Little Italy – University Circle RTA Rapid station under construction at East 120th Street and Mayfield Road. Nearly 80 percent of the $17.5 million project is being funded by the federal government. Most of that from $12.5 million grant awarded in 2011 as part of the TIGER III program for national infrastructure investments.

Those funds for future projects face serious cuts under a house plan to replace the current highway spending bill which expires September, 30.

The vice president’s Cleveland visit comes on the same day President Obama visits New York and the site of the new Tappan Zee Bridge to do the same.

A new bridge over the Hudson River is being funded by a $1.6 billion federal loan.

House Republicans have proposed a plan that would cut $1.8 billion from current funding levels, levels the administration argues even if maintained won’t sufficiently meet $3.6 trillion in investment needed by the end of the decade to keep the country’s infrastructure safe.

The president recently sent to Congress his own proposal, the four year, $302 billion Grow America Plan that send an extra $87 billion to help finance the replacement of the country’s structurally deficient bridges and other transportation needs.

A compromise plan under consideration in the U.S. Senate would continue funding at the current levels but gives states more control over how they use federal dollars.

The vice president’s Ohio visit comes as the Laborers’ International Union of North America Monday unveiled its new campaign to pressure Congress to move on a transportation funding plan quickly.

They are pumping $1 million into states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan to be used for what the organization called “hard hitting billboards” focusing on the consequences if Congress fails to act.

“For LIUNA, passage of a highway bill is about jobs, but, as with every American, it’s about ensuring the safety and reliability of our transportation systems,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan.

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