LIUNA Launches Hard-Hitting Media Effort to Step Up Pressure on Republican Leadership to Pass a Real Highway Bill

Radio, Direct Mail, Creative Tactics in Kentucky and Ohio Urge McConnell, Boehner to Halt Political Stunts and Protect Americans from Deteriorating Bridges

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- LIUNA – the Laborers' International Union of North America – today launched a hard-hitting multi-media campaign to highlight the growing public safety crisis posed by America's crumbling bridges, deteriorating roads and struggling transit systems. The campaign appeals to voters to call on the Republican leadership in Congress to support a long-term Highway Bill that protects investment in transportation systems.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110428/DC91600LOGO)

The provocative effort includes:

  • Extensive radio spots in Ohio and Kentucky. The first ad, "London Bridge," features children singing "America's Bridges falling down." A second, harder-hitting ad will be added to the airwaves shortly after London Bridge debuts.
  • Direct mail targeting voters in both states that takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to the serious crisis of our nation's transportation systems. Entitled "How to Survive a Collapsed Bridge," the literature informs voters of bridge deficiencies in their state and includes information on bridge collapses from the U.S. Army's survival guide. It urges voters to contact House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • Creative tactics in the form of a flatbed truck carrying a giant roll of duct tape. Signage on the truck will state "Emergency Bridge Repair Team." The truck will travel though Ohio and Kentucky.

The campaign comes as Congress faces a March 31 deadline to extend the Highway Bill. Last fall, Congress passed a temporary extension, but a desperately-needed long-term Highway Bill to fix America's ailing transportation systems has been repeatedly sabotaged by Republican political games.  

"The average age of bridges in the U.S. is 45 years – dangerously close to the designed lifespan of 50 years," LIUNA General President Terry O'Sullivan said. "With this campaign, we're letting Congress know that while they're busy playing politics, Americans are being forced to risk their safety every time they cross a deficient or obsolete bridge."

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, 24% of bridges – 143,000 nationwide – have been deemed structurally deficient or functionally obsolete by Federal Highway Administration inspectors. About 3,580 bridges in the U.S. are closed to all traffic because they are unsafe. About 77,000 create a chokehold on commerce because they are obsolete and can't handle the weight of commercial vehicles.

Meanwhile 1.5 million construction workers – who are trained, ready and able to repair our nation's bridges – are jobless. "It is insulting to the public and to working people that Congress has politicized the traditionally bi-partisan Highway Bill," O'Sullivan said. "Politicizing the Highway Bill is bad for America."

The Highway Bill doesn't just sustain bridges – it protects investment in the nation's overall transportation systems. Due to the logjam in Congress and the failure to keep up, poor road conditions have become a contributing factor in 53% of traffic fatalities, according to a Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation study. The study also found that poor roadway condition is the single largest variable in increasing the severity of crash injuries – more than speeding, alcohol or failure to wear seat belts.

Currently a bipartisan bill in the Senate has been stalled by politically-motivated amendments un-related to transportation put forth by some Republicans. The $109 billion Senate bill would keep investment level for two-years. The House has been handcuffed by extremist Republicans seeking to slash investment.

"This campaign is jarring, hard-hitting and provocative – and accurate. It is exasperating that it takes this kind of effort to motivate elected officials to act on behalf of the country," said O'Sullivan. "Congress, in an election year, should be fearful of failing to act. At best, these aging bridges contribute to deteriorating lifestyle for Americans and are crippling our country's ability to compete. At worst, as witnessed with the tragic I-35 Minneapolis bridge collapse, they are thousands of accidents waiting to happen."

In Senator McConnell's own state, the I-64 Sherman-Minton Bridge – a high-traffic artery for commuters and commerce – was shut down for months last year after inspectors declared it too unsafe to drive on. That bridge is just one of 4,257 deficient or obsolete bridges in Kentucky.  In Congressman Boehner's home state of Ohio, almost 6,400 bridges fall into that category.

For more information, to view campaign ad materials and listen to the ads, visit www.highwaybill.org.

The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers' International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America. 

SOURCE Laborers' International Union of North America



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