Biden visits Ohio

NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio (AP) – Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that investing in the nation’s railways, ports, and highways will keep and create manufacturing jobs in the Midwest and the rest of the nation.

Biden toured a rail cargo hub in northwest Ohio that connects freight moving between the Midwest and East Coast, making the case that improving the nation’s infrastructure is another way to help the middle class.

The Obama administration’s proposed transportation budget for fiscal 2014 includes $50 billion to pay for improving the nation’s roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossings, railways and runways.

Obama and Biden say such infrastructure projects are a key to U.S. job creation but there is opposition coming from many Republicans who are against more government spending. Congress has turned down similar requests in recent years.

“There’s still this sort of myth out there that investing in infrastructure is wasteful,” he said.

Biden has made stops over the past few months in several East Coast cities to pitch the need for infrastructure spending. He toured the ports of Baltimore; Charleston, S.C.; and Savannah, Ga., to stress the need for improvements designed to accommodate supersized ships that will be able to pass through the Panama Canal starting in 2015.

Those kinds of projects also will help states that are far from the coasts, but have factories that make dishwashers, cars and other products, he said. Being able to move freight quickly is a big factor in where companies decide to locate their operations, he said.

“How else are we going to compete when the rest of the world is moving forward,” Biden said.

The rail cargo facility in Ohio opened two years ago about 30 miles south of Toledo. Giant cranes transfer containers between trains and move some of the cargo onto trucks at the hub in northwest Ohio, just outside the village of North Baltimore.

CSX Transportation is considering expanding the facility, but its request for a federal grant to cover about half of the estimated $42 million cost was turned this fall.