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Remarks as prepared for delivery
Rick Capka, Administrator, FHWA
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Opening Ceremony -- St. Louis Bay Bridge
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

It wasn't planned this way, but this is the best week of the year to celebrate the opening of an important project -- and the elimination of a 45-minute detour.

It's National Transportation Week, the week when we remember the vital importance of transportation to our economy and our quality of life.

President Bush, Transportation Secretary Peters, and everyone at U.S. DOT are proud to work with Mississippi DOT ... and to provide about $267 million in emergency relief funds to finance construction of this taller, stronger bridge.

But, it takes more than money. It takes determination.

Federal Highways worked closely with MDOT and our partners in Mississippi to get the new bridge up and running as soon as possible. We did it by cutting red tape, and giving the state the flexibility it needed to add powerful financial incentives for early completion.

Considering the severity of the damage, it is clear that a lot of incredible work is being done to erase the impact of the hurricane on the Gulf Coast transportation network.

We've learned important lessons during recovery efforts that federal and state agencies are applying to projects throughout the nation to help win the battle against congestion.

We are keeping America moving -- --

  • Through targeted new construction using the best techniques,
  • By freeing states as much as possible from burdensome regulation, and,
  • Through innovative financing to make more projects possible.

Secretary Peters knows that keeping the transportation network operating at full capacity is crucial to the national economy and the Gulf Coast.

The St. Louis Bay Bridge is an excellent example of what public agencies and private firms can accomplish working together ... with innovation, and, with American can-do spirit. Today's celebration is well-deserved.

This bridge is a big step toward connecting communities along the coast and rebuilding lives disrupted for so long. And don't forget to mark your calendars for another celebration November 30 when we expect to complete the entire project.


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