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Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters
Remarks as prepared for delivery
Trinity Parkway Announcement
August 18, 2004, Dallas, Texas

It is a pleasure to be in Dallas, and I have some great news.

I am here to announce that the Bush Administration has placed the Trinity Parkway on our priority project list under the President's Environmental Stewardship and Transportation Infrastructure Executive Order.

This is a list of significant transportation projects that will get high-level attention across the federal government, so that the decision-making process does not slow them down. With the economy expanding rapidly and passengers and cargo at record levels, continued growth depends on making timely decisions about vital transportation projects.

In all, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta is adding six new projects, including the Trinity Parkway, to our priority list. We chose them from a list of 52 nominations from 16 states, the District of Columbia, and one multi-state project. Three were announced yesterday, two today, and one on Thursday.

These projects weren't chosen because they are easy. In fact, we looked for projects that had tough issues that the government needed to work through . . . projects that had been languishing for years . . . but projects whose potential impact on the economy and quality of life, locally and nationally, was significant.

The criteria were tough, and the Trinity Parkway made the cut. This proposed nine-mile long project will relieve serious congestion near downtown Dallas. It will allow economic development near the central business district so your city can continue to thrive. Governor Perry, Mayor Miller, TxDOT, and the City of Dallas have told us that this road is a priority.

What does today's announcement mean for the people of Dallas?

It means that we're putting the decision-making process for this important project on a fast track. As Secretary Mineta has said, "Clearly, something is broken when it takes an average of 13 years to complete a new road and 10 years to complete a new airport runway."

And when projects stall, scarce transportation dollars are left in limbo, instead of relieving congestion and building safer roads. The costs of the project go up, and economic growth is stymied.

And while you're waiting on seemingly endless reviews, congestion and delay will inevitably increase.

So in 2002, President Bush issued an executive order telling the numerous agencies of the federal government to work together, cut through the red tape, be good stewards of the environment, and just make a decision. He told us to find projects that have waited too long for approval or rejection . . . and get them moving . . . or move on to other ideas. The order was an effort to end the delays and close the books in the best possible way.

Last year, we put 13 projects on the original fast-track list. And we're already seeing impressive results. In fact, three projects have completed environmental review, showing that common sense streamlining and a commitment to protecting our environment can shave years off the process.

President Bush's order provides what Secretary Mineta calls an "express lane" to environmental decisions -- and today, the Trinity Parkway moves up to the on-ramp.

The American people want us to ask tough questions and apply tough standards. But because this is a priority, we will make sure the people of Dallas get a timely decision. Improving the decision-making process is the best kind of government reform.

It still has to go the distance -- pass full environmental muster -- but we are going to make sure that the path is clear to get to a "go/no go" decision . . . and get there quickly. Please understand, we're not pushing for a particular decision, we just want to get to a decision sooner.

I want to thank Governor Perry, Mayor Miller and all of the people involved with this vital project. Now is the time to make certain that Trinity and the other priority projects safeguard the environment, that they keep the American economy moving, and that we challenge ourselves to take years off of the approval process.

On behalf of Secretary Mineta and President Bush, congratulations. We look forward to working with you to keep Texas . . . and America . . . moving forward.


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