7 Sep 2010

Obama unveils big transport infrastructure plan

3:31 pm on 7 September 2010

United States President Barack Obama is promising to put Americans back to work by rebuilding the country's transport infrastructure.

Mr Obama has unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at investing about $50 billion $NZ69 billion)) in roads, railways and airports as well as high-speed rail and the creation of an infrastructure bank.

US infrastructure has long been considered underfunded and receives poor grades from government agencies, the BBC reports.

On Friday, the US Labor Department announced that the economy had lost a further 54,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.6%, from 9.5% in July.

Congressional campaign under way

"Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads - enough to circle the world six times," Mr Obama told an event in Milwaukee marking the Labor Day holiday in the US.

"We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways - enough to stretch coast-to-coast. We're going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travellers - something I think folks across the political spectrum could agree on."

Labor Day traditionally marks the start of the mid-term congressional election campaign.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says the plan "should be met with justifiable scepticism" because, he says, it will raise taxes.