Last Friday afternoon, President Obama signed legislation that will put thousands of construction workers on jobsites across the country and supports our commitment to restoring America's infrastructure.
This transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), will sustain our Highway Trust Fund and provide states and communities with two years of steady funding to build needed roads, bridges, and transit systems. It also builds on DOT's efforts to improve safety across all forms of transportation and to make progress on transportation alternatives.
It's a good, bipartisan bill that will strengthen America's transportation system and grow our economy. As the President said:
"The construction industry, for example, was hit brutally hard when the housing bubble burst. So it's not enough to just keep construction workers on the job doing projects that were already underway. For months I've been calling on Congress to take half the money we're no longer spending on war and use it to do some nation-building here at home."
Many people are going to go to work as a result of this, building roads and bridges. As Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley noted, in that state alone, more than 10,000 men and women will be on the job thanks to the projects this legislation will support.
Now, of course, we have more hard work ahead of us. We look forward to putting this bill to work quickly and effectively in communities across the nation.
Photo courtesy "Texas on the Potomac" photographer Francis Rivera, Houston Chronicle
Additionally, we will also:
- Take the $1.75 billion Congress has made available for our TIFIA loan program and leverage it into $34 billion in private sector and other investments for needed transportation projects.
- Develop a new transit safety program, a long overdue step that will provide Americans with the confidence that the buses, subways, streetcar, and light-rail systems they ride every day are the safest in the world.
- Step up our safety efforts, including our fight against distracted driving and our push to improve truck and motorcoach safety.
- And we will consolidate our highway and transit programs, eliminating duplicate or outdated programs and saving taxpayers' hard-earned money.
These are the kinds of challenges transportation professionals look forward to; at DOT we call them opportunities.
Opportunities to help folks get back to work building a thriving 21st century American transportation system that supports a thriving 21st century American economy. Opportunities to keep all users of our transportation network as safe as we can. Opportunities to keep this great nation moving forward.
That's the task ahead, and that is what this DOT will do.