- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Investing in the country’s infrastructure is needed for the kind of jobs workers can “raise a middle class family on,” Vice President Joe Biden said during a trip to Philadelphia on Thursday.

Biden toured a dredging barge being used in a 102.5-mile project to deepen a shipping channel that stretches from the Ben Franklin Bridge to the Delaware Bay and is meant to bring larger container ships to the port.

Such infrastructure enhancements are “what we desperately need in this country now” to promote manufacturing and jobs, Biden said.

“Where’s it written that the United States will not be the manufacturing capital of the world in the 21st century?” Biden asked a small crowd gathered in front of the barge. “Manufacturing is coming home for the United States.”

The $300 million project would deepen the 40-foot Delaware River channel to 45 feet. It started in March 2010, but work on the 2.5-mile section in Philadelphia just started last month. Officials are aiming to complete the entire deepening in 2017.

The 40-foot channel “cuts us out of a whole lot of commerce. It cuts us out of a whole lot of new jobs if they cannot come up the Delaware River,” Biden said. “We can’t afford to be left out of this. The dredging project here is going to have a profound economic impact when it’s finished.”

The project would add jobs and increase construction along the river, he said.

“The average person rides over the (Ben Franklin Bridge) and they look down and they have, understandably, no idea how much of their economic well-being depends on what happens at this port,” Biden said. “We need this work, we need this port.”

Biden was joined by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and U.S. Reps. Chaka Fattah and Bob Brady, all Pennsylvania Democrats.

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