Patrick Joins Obama's Call To Extend Highway Bill

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has joined President Obama's call to extend a federal highway bill that provides funding to the state's infrastructure projects and employs thousands of workers across the state.

Patrick traveled to the White House Wednesday to support Obama as he urged Congress to renew a federal transportation spending bill that expires Sept. 30.

"I join the President in calling upon Congress to move forward with this reauthorization so that we can keep Massachusetts workers on the job, and continue to support our infrastructure needs," Patrick, a longtime proponent of infrastructure investments, said in a statement.

Massachusetts receives over $500 million annually in federal highway funds from the gasoline tax, a component of the bill. That money is used to fund infrastructure and repair projects that create jobs.

If the bill is not reauthorized by that deadline, 260 ongoing infrastructure projects, including the state's accelerated bridge project, would be affected, costing Massachusetts about 5,000 jobs, according to the Patrick administration.

The state would also see an estimated 15 percent drop in the operating budgets of the MBTA and the state's regional transit authorities. That could affect 100,000 riders a day.

"Countless projects would be brought to a standstill and thousands of jobs that have contributed to the state's economic resurgence would be lost if action is not taken," Jeffrey Mullan, the state's outgoing transportation secretary, said in a statement.

Obama called on lawmakers to pass a clean extension of the bill, and said failing to pass it would threaten a million jobs nationwide. He also called for the reauthorization of a bill funding the Federal Aviation Administration, which expires in mid-September. The FAA was already partially shut down for two weeks this summer, because lawmakers couldn't agree to an extension in time.

A spokesman for Patrick said the governor and Obama discussed jobs, the economy and economic strategies that have worked in Massachusetts.

Patrick is a friend of the president and one of his strongest political supporters.

This program aired on August 31, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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