Biden touts St. Louis Arch renovation project

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 | 8:26 p.m. CDT
St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, from left; Vice President Joe Biden; and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell take a tour of the CityArchRiver project at the Gateway Arch on Tuesday in St. Louis.

ST. LOUIS — Vice President Joe Biden made a rain-shortened appearance beneath the Gateway Arch Tuesday to tout the economic benefits of a massive renovation project at the iconic tourist attraction.

The vice president was introduced by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and accompanied by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who was scheduled to join Biden later at a $1,000-a-plate fundraiser at the home of a lawyer in Alton, Ill., just across the Mississippi River.

The Midwest trip came as the White House presses Congress to replenish the Federal Highway Trust Fund for road and bridge repairs. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said the fund could run out of money by August unless Congress acts. President Obama is scheduled to speak Wednesday in front of the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, while his vice president heads to Cleveland to promote a federally funded transit center project.

The $410 million Arch renovation project includes construction of a pedestrian bridge over Interstate 70 to connect downtown St. Louis with the National Park Service site. Project funding is expected to come from $250 million private donations, government grants and a portion of a local sales tax increase.

"Infrastructure is the back upon which this great nation has been built," Biden told an audience of several dozen local politicians, civic and business leaders. "We have to rebuild the infrastructure in this country. We've stalled."

In response to Biden's visit, the Missouri Republican Party issued a statement calling for White House and Democratic congressional support of the Keystone XL pipeline project.

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