WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - President Barack Obama traveled to Wilmington on Thursday and announced a new program to attract more private money to help pay to build new roads, bridges and highways around the nation.
The new program is designed to encourage collaboration between state and local governments and private-sector investors, expand the market for public-private partnerships and make greater use of federal credit programs.
Obama argued that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge to other countries that spend freely on infrastructure upgrades.
"First-class infrastructure attracts investment, and it creates first-class jobs," Obama said at the Port of Wilmington, where the recently closed I-495 bridge served as the backdrop.
The bridge was closed indefinitely last month after four support columns were found to be tilting, forcing 90,000 daily drivers to find another way through downtown Wilmington.
While waiting for the president to arrive Governor Jack Markell said the infrastructure needs of the state were bigger than the troubles of the I-495 Bridge behind him.
Last year Markell was unsuccessful in pushing tax increases to fix roads and clean up the state’s waterways.
Yesterday he called the conditions affecting the state’s transportation infrastructure unacceptable and that they must be addressed.
Those in attendance included top legislative leaders including Democrats such as state House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf and House Majority leader Valerie Longhurst as well as Republican state Senator Greg Lavelle.