U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
It's great to be back in Arizona! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you celebrate the completion of "The Crossing."
I'm particularly proud of this project because I had the honor of being State Transportation Director when it was re-started in 1998. This celebration represents a lot of hard work by Arizonans.
The I-10/I-19 interchange is one of the largest highway improvement projects undertaken by the Arizona Department of Transportation in the past decade. And it is the type of project the Bush Administration seeks throughout the country because it reduces congestion, improves mobility and increases safety.
Completion of the interchange is key to bringing more prosperity and economic opportunity to the Tucson area. It will help resolve the congestion and safety concerns associated with the old interchange. The new interchange offers easier and safer access between these two major highways.
It has three-levels and offers eight new ramps and ten new bridges that can accommodate the ever-increasing number of motorists and commercial vehicles for years to come. Most problems with the old interchange were with commercial trucks -- the project has regional and national benefits since I-10 is a major freight corridor.
The new interchange means commuters will have an easier time getting to their jobs or to a daycare center to pick up their child. It also gives firefighters and other emergency responders the ability to make better time when lives are at stake.
"The Crossing" is a success story because it uses the principals of context-sensitive design -- a program Federal Highways and ADOT have championed for several years. It is the type of common sense approach that the Bush Administration supports.
Context sensitive design simply means that public comment was sought and incorporated into the design. And the project was designed to fit naturally into its surroundings. It means projects done with communities, not to them; roadways that compliment, not contradict the neighborhoods and cities they serve.
The public indicated a desire for a multicultural theme. That theme is reflected in the colorful corn, beans, squash and sunflowers on columns and walls. They symbolize the Yaqui, O'Odham, Apache, Hispanic, African, Asian and European peoples who have built communities, raised crops, and continue to travel along these historic routes. The theme also represents the agricultural history of the people who traveled here long before us.
The Bush Administration strongly supports important transportation improvements such as "The Crossing." As you probably know, legislation to reauthorize surface transportation programs is pending in Congress. The President's proposal, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2003 -- SAFETEA -- would provide Arizona with more than $3 billion in funding for highway improvements over the six years of the bill.
That would be a significant -- and needed -- increase in funding. Funds that would result in more good projects for our great state.
Today, we celebrate a completed project. Congratulations on this important interchange. And thanks for letting me celebrate its opening with you.