WASHINGTON – President Obama cited the dilapidated state of the Cumberland Street Bridge in Westbrook on Thursday as evidence that Congress needs to pass his jobs bill.

“In Maine, there is a bridge that is in such bad shape that pieces of it were literally falling off the other day,” Obama said at a White House news conference called to promote the jobs bill. “And, meanwhile, we’ve got millions of laid-off construction workers who could right now be busy rebuilding roads, rebuilding bridges, rebuilding schools. This jobs bill gives them a chance to get back to work rebuilding America.”

Willy Ritch, spokesman for First District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, said he called the White House to ask which bridge the president had in mind, and was told it was the Cumberland Street Bridge.

The bridge was closed Wednesday morning for emergency repairs after a worker discovered a 2-foot-by-3-foot hole in the bridge deck. The bridge reopened Thursday morning.

Pingree has been a supporter of Obama’s plan. She said Thursday that it would provide money for infrastructure projects such as the Westbrook bridge, as well as money for communities to keep teachers and first responders on the job and hire new ones.

“Maine would stand to get a minimum of $138 million (under Obama’s plan) … to fix roads and bridges, and this bridge in Westbrook is just one of the examples of our crumbling highway system,” Pingree said.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, hasn’t endorsed Obama’s overall plan, but she said Thursday that she endorses the idea of figuring out how to pay for important infrastructure projects in a way that’s agreeable to both political parties.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at: [email protected]

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