OPENING REMARKS: The Honorable Peter Visclosky, Vice Chairman, Steel Caucus Hearing-March 25, 2014
I would like to thank Chairman Murphy for holding today’s hearing and all of the representatives from steel companies and the United Steelworkers for being here today. The steel industry has been and will continue to be the backbone of our American manufacturing base, and I appreciate all of you taking the time to present to us your views on the state of the American steel industry.
I believe that we must do more to invest in our manufacturing base and our transportation infrastructure, and for the past 6 months I have been working non-stop to expand a commuter rail line, the South Shore Rail Line, from Chicago into Northwest Indiana. Work started on this expansion in 1987, and today we are so very close to seeing this project come to fruition.
Between 1970 and 2012, the population of Lake County fell by 9.6 percent, the median income decreased by 15.3 percent, and the median age increased by 43 percent. The result is that we are fewer, poorer, and older. By providing a robust transportation infrastructure system that is connected to Chicago, we will increase our ability to access the city's $500 billion economy and four million jobs. We will then begin to draw that economic vibrancy to our region.
Many of our children and other talented and ambitious young people are choosing to live in areas that provide a comprehensive transportation network, including Chicago and its environs in Illinois. Expanding our transportation network in Northwest Indiana will make the region more competitive in terms of attracting not only new residents, but also attracting new businesses that are seeking locations that offer quality educational, recreational, and transportation opportunities for their employees and their families.
In Northwest Indiana and in areas throughout our country, it is imperative that we invest in transformational infrastructure projects. I appreciate the great work that you do to provide for transportation infrastructure projects and the jobs the stem from their construction and use thereafter. I believe that the South Shore expansion will create jobs forever, and I believe that the steel industry and manufacturing industry will inherently benefit from that job creation. We need to do this project and the countless other generational transformational infrastructure projects that are needed throughout our country.
Thank you Chairman Murphy again for holding this hearing today, and I look forward to hearing the testimony of all of our witnesses.