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Villaraigosa presses Congress on jobs funding

September 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sent a message to Capitol Hill: Keep the money flowing for transportation projects. Many jobs will be lost if congress does not act soon.

Villaraigosa, along with transportation and business leaders, pressured Congress to reauthorize surface transportation funding. That includes the highway trust fund and affects tens of thousands of jobs. The spending authorization ends September 30.

"It has never been a partisan issue until this year, and it's time for the politicians in the Congress to get the message," said Villaraigosa.

Without the authorization, highway, bridge and transit projects already in the pipeline will grind to a halt.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) estimates that a lack of funding would put at risk more than 134,000 active projects such as building bridges and paving roads.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari says now is the time to spend more on infrastructure.

"There's over 76,000 jobs at risk in California," said Porcari. "There are literally thousands of highway and transit projects throughout the state of California that will grind to a halt if the bill is not extended."

The authorization includes the federal gas tax, which funds many of the nation's transit programs and highway construction.

The FTA estimates 1 million jobs are in jeopardy nationally if transportation funding expires.

"We're not keeping up with India, Brazil and China. So we've got a lot of work to do," said Villaraigosa.

President Barack Obama's jobs speech is scheduled to be delivered Thursday night.