The Washington Post

Richmond bridge protest calls for repairs, jobs

President Barack Obama calls for more spending on infrastructure in a speech beneath the Francis Scott Key bridge on Nov. 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Activists pushing for President Obama’s jobs plan demonstrated Thursday at the foot of a Richmond bridge to send this message: “This bridge needs work, and so do we!”

A group called Virginia Organizing planned the protest for noon at the Hamilton Street Bridge, which it described as heavily traveled and sorely in need of repair.

“The Hamilton Street (Downtown Expressway — 195) bridge in Richmond is used by 85,749 residents each day and is a vivid example of the many roads, schools and other infrastructure sites in need of repair,” organizers said in a news release. “The American Jobs Act would provide $809,000,000 in infrastructure funding for Virginia and 10,5000 infrastructure jobs, yet Rep. [Eric] Cantor continues to obstruct the bill.

“Engineers have identified the Hamilton Street bridge — and 1,267 other bridges in Virginia — as having a ‘major defect in its support structure or its deck.’ But we know the biggest defect is in Congress where they are pushing more job-killing cuts, instead of creating jobs. ”

Virginia Organizing describes itself as “a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives.”

Cantor responded by noting that House Republicans had proposed their own jobs and infrastructure bill Thursday.

“I am proud to support the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act which will help create new jobs, expand domestic energy production and improve our nation’s infrastructure,” Cantor said in a prepared statement. “We know our roads, bridges and highways are in need of repair and there are certain areas of the country that need additional roads. While the President continues to push for more failed stimulus spending to solve the problem, I remain focused on creating a better environment for economic growth.

“This measure will streamline the process for transportation projects by removing unnecessary red tape, provide states and local governments with more flexibility on how to spend federal dollars, and help leverage private capital to build better infrastructure and get more people back to work. Additionally, it will help reduce our reliance on imported oil while creating high quality jobs in the domestic energy sector.”

Earlier Thursday, another group targeted Cantor with a demonstration at his Glen Allen office.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare said it joined with Culpeper County activists to deliver over 1,000 signature petitions, asking Cantor to oppose any proposed cuts to those programs.

This story has been updated.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.



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