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Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters
Remarks as prepared for delivery
I-70/75 Dedication Ceremony
October 25, 2004, near Dayton, Ohio

On behalf of President Bush and Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, I am proud to be part of today's interchange dedication.

We seek to honor Ohioans who served -- and continue to serve -- in Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as those on the front lines in the War on Terror around the world. This I-70/75 Interchange project is an economic shot in the arm that will keep opportunity rolling into the Dayton area and throughout Ohio.

It is one of ODOT's key efforts to relieve congestion in the state's highway network. The Bush Administration knows that transportation is one of the best investments we can make to expand opportunity and prosperity to more and more Americans. The current out-dated and over-capacity interchange will be improved to become one of the most safe and efficient interstate crossroads in the nation. This will help keep the regional economy on the move.

At FHWA, we have three key priorities, and all of them are represented in this project. We want to save lives and reduce injuries on our highways. We want to reduce congestion to support our economy and improve quality of life. And we want to protect and preserve the environment while completing vital projects.

Considering safety, there is no question that lives will be saved. The new interchange will eliminate dangerous weaving at entrances and exits and incorporates many highway safety design improvements.

Clearly this project will relieve congestion area-wide. Plus, traffic will be maintained throughout the construction period.

The project has passed extensive environmental review and has strong community support.

It's appropriate that we are dedicating this interchange -- Freedom Veterans Crossroads -- to Ohio veterans fighting in the War on Terror. They are putting their lives on the line to protect the freedom we all enjoy . . . and a way of life that includes unprecedented mobility -- thanks to our transportation network and projects like this.

I especially want to remember a member of our Federal Highways family. Charles Wilkins, a planning specialist with our Ohio Division Office and a lieutenant in the Ohio National Guard 216th Engineering Battalion, was killed in Iraq in August. Charles was one of many federal and state transportation employees to serve in Iraq, but is the lone casualty from FHWA. Ohio also lost Specialist Ryan Martin in the same incident.

On behalf of President Bush, I want to thank all Ohio military personnel who serve America in this post 9-11 world. We appreciate your dedication, your courage and your strength.


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