Earlier today, Federal Highway Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau joined state and local officials in Ft. Lauderdale to review progress on the I-595 Express Lanes project in Broward County. Once the work is complete, these lanes will bring congestion relief to residents, businesses, and visitors to South Florida.
The project is being supported by an innovative financing package including a $603 million TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan, other federal funds, and a public-private partnership. In making this happen, the Florida DOT has exercised exactly the kind of creativity we need to see for infrastructure investments across the country.
And it is already paying dividends. According to FDOT, there are 115 companies working on the project, currently employing more than 1900 workers. At the peak of construction, the I-595 Express Corridor Improvements Project employed as many as 179 companies and 2470 employees.
These numbers illustrate President Obama's vision for investing in our transportation system to help reignite the engine of America's economy. And the threefold plan the President proposed on Wednesday will do just that.
Fix It First. Since the President took office four years ago, America has begun the hard work of rebuilding our infrastructure.
But we all know there’s more to do, and that’s why the President’s plan ensures that the money we invest in infrastructure is spent wisely by adopting a “fix-it-first” policy. Repair and maintenance of our existing roads, bridges and public transportation systems should take priority before we consider investing in new facilities.
President’s Obama's plan for $50 billion in frontloaded transportation infrastructure investment would direct $40 billion towards reducing the backlog of deferred maintenance on highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports nationwide. For example, the President’s proposed investments could bring almost 80 percent of structurally deficient bridges up to date, getting Americans home faster and making the flow of commerce speedier.
Rebuild America Partnership. And also like FDOT's I-595 project, the President’s infrastructure plan calls for a Rebuild America Partnership that will attract private capital to help build the infrastructure our businesses need most. Three primary elements in this partnership include a National Infrastructure Bank, Build America Bonds, and greater use of financing tools like TIFIA that leverage government credit to attract private loans.
Cut red tape. The President's plan also calls on us to continue cutting red tape to ensure that important projects can get started more quickly so people can experience the benefits of transportation improvements more quickly. We have already shown that we can cut federal review and permitting timelines for construction projects such as highway, bridges, railways, ports, waterways, pipelines, and renewable energy by several months to several years. And we will continue to do so.
President Obama challenged us to prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. Together, we can meet this challenge.
We've got work to do; let's get busy.