One Year Anniversary of the I-35 Bridge Collapse in Minnesota a Stark Reminder that it's Time to Build America, so America Works

08/01/2008 09:04 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Today we mark the one year anniversary of the tragic collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minnesota that killed 13 people and injured hundreds more.

The image of the I-35 bridge collapsing is seared in America's memory and in the memory of LIUNA - the Laborers' International Union of North America. LIUNA members were on that bridge, some simply crossing the Mississippi River as millions do every day, while others were working on a repaving crew. Every one of those members would rather have been fixing the I-35 instead of just patching it.

There were numerous warnings about the I-35 bridge dating back to the 1990s, but even after its deadly collapse there remain today more than 150,000 bridges across America in need of repair. Overall, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives our infrastructure a "D" grade and estimates that the investment now needed to bring the country back to acceptable condition is $1.6 trillion and rising because of inflation and continuing deterioration.

The condition of our bridges and the state of America's other basics call for a commitment to build America. It is time that we repair, rebuild and renew the basics in our country rather than relying on band-aid fixes and patch-work solutions. We must make building America an immediate priority. We cannot wait for another bridge to fall or another levee to be breached before we act.

Building America leaves behind a stronger, safer nation and creates good family-supporting jobs that stimulate our economy. A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation concludes that 47,500 jobs can be created for every $1 billion invested in building America. While the I-35 bridge collapse was a stark reminder of tragedies that happen when we wait too long to take care of the basics, the I-35 New Bridge Project demonstrates the positive impact building America can have on the economy and local community.

The I-35 New Bridge Project is a testament to the strength and resolve of America, our union and hundreds of proud LIUNA members and contractors. From this tragedy, which shocked our nation, we have renewed our focus on taking care of the basics of America - our bridges, roadways, waterways and other fundamentals that working people depend on every day. The 250 LIUNA members helping to rebuild the I-35 bridge - ahead of schedule, on budget and safely - are proving that we can build America so America works if we put our hearts, hands and minds to it.

The half-million members of LIUNA - the Laborers' International Union of North America - are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of 10 million workers who build America.

LIUNA recently launched its Build America, so America Works campaign, a long-term effort to make taking care of America's highways, bridges, dams, schoolhouses and other basics a national priority. The effort includes ongoing targeted advertising outreach, a new website and The Petition to Build America, with a goal of 1 million voices telling Congress and the country's next president to "build America so America works."