Kentuckiana leaders talk with Obama about federal aid for ailing - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Kentuckiana leaders talk with Obama about federal aid for ailing bridge

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Sherman Minton Bridge Sherman Minton Bridge
President Obama during his Sept. 22 jobs speech in Cincinnati President Obama during his Sept. 22 jobs speech in Cincinnati
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

CINCINNATI, OH (WAVE) - A handful of local elected officials came to President Obama's speech in Cincinnati Thursday hoping to put the shutdown of the Sherman Minton Bridge front and center on his agenda. 

"When I brought it up with him, he's on it," said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. 

Fischer's meeting with Mr. Obama was brief, only a few minutes as he prepared to leave the site of his Cincinnati speech. But Fischer said the President also spoke with Congressman John Yarmuth and Senator Rand Paul, who both flew on Air Force One from Washington. Fischer said all three made the case for federal assistance if it turns out that cracks to support beams in the Sherman Minton Bridge are so bad that the bridge needs to be replaced. 

"If it's declared an emergency, that's where it needs to come from," said Fischer. "Once we find out what the scope of the repair is we'll know where we need to go to get the dollars." 

What is still unclear if those dollars will come from President Obama's American Jobs Act, which was the reason for his speech in the Queen City. 

"At a time when we've got millions of unemployed construction workers out there just ready to get on the job, ready to do the work," said the President. 

Mr. Obama was trying to encourage voters to ask Congress to pass the bill, but it has strong oppositions from Republicans, including congressional leaders from Ohio and Kentucky. 

"There's no reason to stand in the way of more jobs," said the President. "Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge. Help us rebuild America." 

Sen. McConnell's office said the $447 billion proposal is paid for with higher taxes on the wealthy. Pushing it through Congress could take time which something the Sherman Minton Bridge doesn't have. 

Fischer said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood will be in Louisville Friday to survey the Sherman Minton Bridge for himself. However, it will probably be another 10 days or so before the inspection report will be complete and the city knows how big a repair or replacement job it is facing. 

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