Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
INFRA and AIP Event
Atrium, DOT HQ
Friday, June 8, 2018
Thank you, Jim [Ray]. It is a pleasure to join you all today.
I would like to acknowledge some very special guests, including the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner. Also with us is Congressman Bill Shuster, of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee; Let me also welcome several state transportation officials. We have Commissioner Russell McMurray from Georgia, Secretary Jim Trogdon of North Carolina, Secretary David Ross of Wisconsin, Secretary Shawn Wilson of Louisiana, Director Kirk Steudle, of Michigan, and Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams of Texas.
Also with us is Candace McGraw, CEO of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport. She is Chair of the Airports Council International – North America. And joining us is Ed Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads.
You’ve all heard the old saying, that actions speak louder than words. If that is true, then the statement being made today by the Department of Transportation will be heard loud and clear.
Today, the Department is proposing more than $1.5 billion in Infrastructure for Rebuilding America – or “INFRA” grants for surface transportation and more than $300 million in Airport Improvement Program – or “AIP” grants for aviation infrastructure. This administration is not simply talking about the need to renew and repair America’s crumbling infrastructure. With the assistance of Congress, it is taking action.
When you build better transportation infrastructure, you build a better quality of life: fewer delays, faster movement of people and freight, economic growth, improved international competitiveness, and, especially, more jobs and opportunities.
That is why this Administration has made infrastructure a high priority. To get the job done, the Administration empowers decision-making at the state and local level, because local officials know their community infrastructure needs.
It is also ensuring that rural community transportation needs no longer get overlooked.
And we want to make it easier to build or repair infrastructure by streamlining permitting and reducing unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations. This will save time and money. The Department of Transportation has been a leader in reducing unnecessary regulations and delays without compromising safety – which is my number one priority – or negatively impacting the environment. The department is focused on more infrastructure, not more red tape.
This new results-oriented approach is already being applied to grant programs like INFRA, and the recently announced Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development – or BUILD Grants.
So how will today’s announcements help achieve these goals? Let me cite a couple of examples.
The proposed $160 million grant for the 94 North-South Freeway project in Wisconsin. This project will reconstruct 6 interchanges and widen 19 miles of highway. It will benefit both rural and urban communities.
Using “Dig Once,” this project will allow installation of fiber optic communication and other features that can enable automated vehicle technology. “Dig Once” calls for installing cable conduits during construction or major upgrades of roads. This strategy, which is being adopted in many INFRA projects, will make future installation of fiber optic systems far easier and much less expensive.
Now, not all the INFRA projects are for roadways. Governor, Raumer has worked with us to ensure that an award of more than $132 million for the 75th Street Corridor in the Chicago area is approved He has explained how this project will decrease railroad congestion and enhance safety.
There are many smaller INFRA grants to rural communities, such as the proposed $12 million award to reconstruct the interchange of Interstate 90 with Veteran’s Parkway in South Dakota.
There are many more proposed INFRA grants that Jim will be happy to inform you about as well.
The department also has significant news to share about AIP grants. Our country’s aviation infrastructure includes 3,332 airports and 5,000 paved runways. This infrastructure supports an industry that generates $1.6 Trillion in economic activity and supports nearly 11 million jobs! Increased air access can generate new opportunities even in relatively remote communities, so AIP targets many small rural airports. Today, the Department will announce $677 million in 241 grants for 346 projects. Overall, this will benefit 214 airports in 43 states. Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell is here, and he will fill you in on the details of the many exciting projects these AIP funds will go towards.
The important thing is that the INFRA and AIP projects will benefit rural as well as urban communities. These projects put America on the path toward better transportation infrastructure and show that the Department of Transportation does not simply talk about infrastructure; it takes action.
Now I am going to invite Jim, Dan and our guest speakers to talk more about these grants and the importance of the projects that these grants are funding.
Thank you very much for coming to this event.
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