Obama pushes transportation money at closed bridge

President Barack Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Thursday, July 17, 2014, to announce an initiative to increase private sector investment in the nation's infrastructure. The bridge was closed for emergency repairs last month after the discovery of four tilting support columns, and the federal government is helping pay for repairs. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Barack Obama speaks in front of the Interstate 495 bridge over the Christina River near Wilmington, Del., Thursday, July 17, 2014, to announce an initiative to increase private sector investment in the nation's infrastructure. The bridge was closed for emergency repairs last month after the discovery of four tilting support columns, and the federal government is helping pay for repairs. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President Barack Obama has announced a new program aimed at attracting more private money to help pay for new roads, bridges and highways. And he’s criticizing Congress for refusing to approve a more lasting source of transportation funding.

Obama spoke today at the Port of Wilmington in Delaware, where a recently-closed Interstate 495 bridge served as the backdrop. The bridge was closed indefinitely last month after four support columns were found to be tilting.

The new program is designed to encourage collaboration between state and local governments and private-sector investors. It’s supposed to 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 to upgrade infrastructure.

His trip was part of a broader effort to press Congress to keep money flowing into the Highway Trust Fund. It’s the source of federal aid to states for surface transportation projects. The fund is expected to begin running out of money next month unless lawmakers act.

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