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Infrastructure awareness campaign rolls into Toledo

Tour to pressure Congress to pass long-term highway bill

CTY-schooled25p-bus

Jarrod Mitchell and his son Justin Mitchell, 8, of Toledo, view the "Getting Schooled in Infrastructure" bus in front of One Government Center in Toledo. The Laborers' International Union of North America is transporting this bus cross country "schooling" the public about failing infrastructure.

The Blade/Dave Zapotosky
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A battered old school bus with its front caved in by a large chunk of rock, supposed to have fallen from a bridge, snared the attention of dozens of downtown Toledo motorists and pedestrians early today.

The bus parked in front of One Government Center is part of a $1 million public-awareness campaign to pressure Congress to pass a long-term, full-investment highway bill to fix failing bridges and crumbling roadways, said Richard Greer, spokesman for Laborers‘‍ International Union of North America, which is spearheading the campaign. 

 “Ten thousand lives are lost every year due to poor road conditions,” said Mr. Greer. “Twenty-five bridges collapse each year. We’‍re not trying to scare people. We‘‍re trying to get Congress’‍s attention.”

The problem is that it’‍s been 20 years since federal motor-fuel taxes, which underwrite the federal Highway Trust Fund, Mr. Greer said. The current federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents; the tax on diesel is 24.4 cents.

Congress already has several options available including; a 12-cent gas-tax increase or a 15-cent increase that would be implemented in stages over three years, he said.

“We just need someone to do it,” said Mr. Greer, who thinks Congress is putting politics ahead of saving people‘‍s lives.

DeMarco Morris, 25, of Toledo agrees that roads and bridges in Toledo are in dire need of repair, but opposes a gas-tax increase.

“We’‍re already paying to much for gas,” Mr. Morris said. “It‘‍s the city’‍s responsibility to take care of the roads. They should be able to handle it.”

The public awareness campaign and the bus will roll into Detroit later today, before heading to Kalamazoo later in the week. The bus, which is traveling throughout the country, started in Wilmington, Del., and has traveled through Pennsylvania and Cleveland.

Contact Federico Martinez at fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.
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