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Biden touts benefits of infrastructure bill during NH visit


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

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President Joe Biden was in Woodstock on Tuesday, touting his new infrastructure investment to a small crowd, gathered at the 'Green' Bridge. (Photo by Tara Giles) (click for larger version)
November 24, 2021
WOODSTOCK — Last Tuesday, President Biden landed via helicopter near the Route 175 bridge, or as locals call it, the "Green Bridge" in Woodstock. The 82-year-old structure crosses over the Pemigewasset River. This was the perfect location for Biden to discuss his newly passed infrastructure law that will sink $1.1 billion into New Hampshire.

The funds will be used to improve public transportation, bridges and roads, expand electric car chargers, improve water infrastructure as well as expand and improve broadband coverage in rural areas.

Several minutes prior to the President's arrival, the whirling of helicopters could be heard overhead. The event was small, with only a few guests being invited. Of course, roads were blocked off, and the President's staff, Secret Service and members of the press braved the late fall bite in the air for several hours prior to the event. There were four homes in close proximity to the bridge. Homeowners in that area were invited to and attended the event. One woman sat on her porch watching as all present awaited the President's entry.

Moments later, the President emerged on the far side of the bridge. In the distance, all could see Biden, tall in stature, dark suit, and white hair slowly come into view. He was flanked by Congresswoman Annie Kuster, Senator Maggie Hassan, Congressman Chris Pappas, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and NH Commissioner of the DOT Victoria Sheehan.

As Biden began to address the crowd, a light snow began to fall, to which one person in the crowd shouted, "Welcome to New Hampshire!"

Biden responded, lifting his hands in the air as if to welcome the snow, and said, "Thank you! What a magnificent state."

The bridge is one of 215 in the state which have been red listed (structurally deficient).

Biden said, "At one point, this very bridge was capable of carrying 40-ton trucks. Now, after years of decay, it can only carry 20-ton trucks. These bridges are essential in small towns and rural areas to farmers and small businesses."

Biden mentioned that without this bridge, it would lead emergency personnel to travel ten miles out of their way to respond to 911 calls in certain areas.

"This law is a blue collar blueprint to rebuild America, and leaves nobody behind," Biden said.

Many politicians, he said, make many promises regarding improvements in education and infrastructure; however, no real substantial changes are ever seen by everyday Americans. This is the first bill of its kind in decades that will address the decaying infrastructure the country has been facing for quite some time.

New Hampshire has been given a C- grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Biden said, "Seven hundred miles of roads in this state are in poor condition, which damages vehicles over time."

The President then began to discuss the harsh winters in the Granite State, noting "Hurricane Irene hit New Hampshire very hard. Every winter the power goes out from ice storms. Over the past ten years, extreme weather events have cost New Hampshire $500 million in damages. This law builds back our bridges, water systems, power lines and our grids for better and stronger resilience."

In regard to high speed Internet access, Biden said, "Throughout this pandemic, I've spoken with New Hampshire delegation about students learning remotely. Parents shouldn't have to drive to a fast food restaurant just so their kids can get their homework done."

The President went on to say, "Always remember to look at the big picture. These investments are going to affect everyday people across the country, particularly here in New Hampshire. Clean water, access to the internet, rebuilding bridges and everything in this bill matters to individual lives of real people. Your delegation is laser focused on your needs."

"Thanks to the infrastructure law, we're going to make the most significant investment to modernize our roads and bridges in 70 years. The law is going to speed up the replacement of bridges by at least a year and allow New Hampshire to invest in other critical infrastructure needs," said Biden.

The President noted, "Despite what people say, Democrats and Republicans can work together to deliver real results."

As Biden closed, he mentioned his commute back in the day, noting "I would travel 250 miles a day, and I would go through long stretches of neighborhoods and see the lights on in folks' homes and wonder what it is that would make their lives better, what are the conversations they're having. This bipartisan bill will everyone's lives."

Biden left the event the same way he came in, flanked by the New Hampshire Delegation. He waved as he crossed back over the bridge, toward his awaiting motorcade.

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