Remarks as prepared for delivery
Rick Capka, FHWA Administrator
KY 841/US 42 ramp relocation, June 19, 2006
The project that brings us here will relocate an existing off-ramp.
It isn't glamorous.
But it does represent crucial, preliminary work that must be done so we can proceed with the Ohio River Bridges project. This ramp can be considered the "tip of the iceberg" -- a small step toward a project that is critical to increasing capacity on a major mid-America crossroads.
FHWA, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet know that the project will relieve Louisville and southern Indiana's big-city congestion and ease freight movement through the region. Interstate 65 alone carries more than 140,000 cars and trucks per day on a major north-south freight corridor between Mobile, Alabama, and Chicago.
As those of you who drive in this area everyday know, traffic congestion is a growing problem. The average traveler in Louisville spends 42 hours a year delayed in traffic, the 20th worst in the nation, according to the authoritative Texas Transportation Institute.
But congestion doesn't have to be a fact of life.
We know that reining in traffic congestion is crucial in Louisville and southern Indiana and across the country because it is one of the largest threats to our economic prosperity and way of life.
Congestion wastes fuel, wastes time and robs the economy of productivity.
The numbers are incredible.
Whether it takes the form of trucks stalled in traffic, cargo sitting on the dock at overwhelmed seaports, or airplanes circling over crowded airports, congestion is costing America an estimated $200 billion a year.
Consumers lose 3.7 billion hours and waste 2.3 billion gallons of fuel sitting in traffic jams.
With these facts in mind, a few weeks ago Transportation Secretary Mineta rolled out the Bush Administration's new national congestion relief initiative. It provides federal, state, and local officials with a clear plan to follow as we work together to cut traffic jams, relieve freight bottlenecks and reduce flight delays.
The initiative --
Seeks Urban Partnership Agreements with a handful of communities willing to demonstrate new congestion relief strategies,
Encourages states to pass legislation giving the private sector a broader opportunity to invest in transportation, and,
Calls for widespread deployment of new operational technologies and practices that can end tie-ups.
Congestion is not an uncontrollable force.
The partnership of FHWA, Kentucky and Indiana on the Bridges project will solve many of this region's congestion problems.
That's why I'm glad Congresswoman Northup and Congressman Sodrel are here this morning. They are key members of Congress who represent you well in Washington.
Congresswoman Northup has made the Ohio River Bridges project a priority since coming to Congress in 1997. Through her strong leadership on the House Appropriations Committee, she helped ensure much needed funding. Congresswoman Northup has worked tirelessly to advance the Ohio River Bridges project and remains focused on ensuring that it continues to be a top priority.
Congressman Sodrel worked for many years in the trucking and transportation industry prior to being elected to Congress and he knows first-hand how important an efficient transportation network is to the nation's economy. More important, he understands the impact that the Ohio River Bridges project will have on reducing congestion in the region. I appreciate Congressman Sodrel's leadership in Congress on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and applaud his strong commitment to this project, the Louisville/Southern Indiana region, and to the nation.
I am proud to announce that these congressional leaders have secured two federal grants totaling roughly $5.2 million to keep the Ohio River Bridges project on track. These funds can be used for any aspect of the project including environmental studies, design, buying right-of-way and actual construction.
The Bush Administration is committed to keeping the economy strong and growing. I know we have the tools, the technology, the plans, the partners and the commitment to make today's congestion a thing of the past.
Congratulations Louisville . . . Kentucky . . . and Indiana for taking important steps toward designing and (eventually) building a vital project.
Together, we can keep America moving!