Remarks as prepared for delivery
FHWA Acting Administrator Rick Capka
Re-opening ceremony for westbound side, I-10 Twin Spans Bridge
Thursday, January 5, 2006
I want to personally thank Governor Blanco and Secretary Bradberry for their leadership during this challenging time for Louisiana. Under your guidance, much progress has been made.
I-10 is a critical east-west link and speeding repairs to this bridge has been a priority for all of us since Katrina's devastation struck the Gulf Coast. That's why I'm so proud of the cooperative spirit of public agencies and private firms that resulted in completion of repairs on the westbound span of the Twin Spans Bridge nine days ahead of schedule. That returns the full four lanes to service.
When I was here in September, it was a much different picture compared to what we see today. Sections of the bridge had been lifted off the piers. A bridge that is closed to all traffic is devastating to an economy -- you literally can't get there from here without a costly and time-consuming detour.
But, today, we celebrate another milestone in the region's recovery.
The Bush Administration knows that getting the transportation network up and running at full capacity is crucial to the regional economy and to rebuilding damaged homes and businesses. And we know that reducing the time it takes to rebuild can make a tremendous difference in people's daily life.
Throughout the past months, Federal Highways worked closely with Secretary Bradberry and other Louisiana officials to make sure they had the flexibility to get the repairs underway as quickly as possible.
We helped the state streamline the contracting process and include incentives that helped reopen the eastbound lanes 16 days ahead of schedule, getting people and commerce moving again.
We provided $25 million to Louisiana as part of the federal government's commitment to help rebuild Katrina-damaged roads and bridges.
But that was just the down payment. President Bush asked Congress to provide substantial additional emergency relief funding so your state will have the resources it needs.
Congress recently approved $2.75 billion to help Louisiana and other states rebuild roads and bridges damaged by hurricanes in 2005. As my boss, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta has said, "We don't want transportation to be the choke point for the redevelopment of economic activity on the Gulf Coast."
Reopening the Twin Spans Bridge ahead of schedule is a model for other Gulf Coast rebuilding projects.
It is an excellent example of what we can accomplish working together . . . with innovation, with the American can-do spirit, and with the determination to get the job done.