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Remarks by Victor Mendez, Administrator, FHWA
Memorial Bridge Ribbon-cutting Event
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 11 AM

It’s a pleasure to join you this morning.

It’s fair to say we wouldn’t be here without a tremendous team effort by the leadership, congressional delegations and transportation officials of Maine and New Hampshire.

I’d especially like to thank Governor Hassan, Senator Shaheen, Senator Ayotte and Senator Collins for joining us and for their support of this project.

I’d also like to acknowledge our FHWA team:

  • New Hampshire DA Patrick Bauer and ADA Cindy Vigue
  • Maine DA Todd Jorgensen and ADA Cheryl Martin

That teamwork was especially helpful in securing a $20 million TIGER grant to help move this project forward.

I was here about 18 months ago, on a cold February day, to see some of the demolition work on the old bridge.

And so it’s a special treat to be here during the summer
to help open the new Memorial Bridge.

This bridge is a perfect example of what transportation is all about. It links cities and states. It joins communities and families. It supports jobs and businesses.

President Obama has been speaking lately about the important role infrastructure plays in our economic recovery. And he talks about the importance of continuing to invest in infrastructure as part of his “grand bargain” for good, middle class jobs.

The construction jobs created by this project were certainly welcome in the homes and businesses of this community.

Now this bridge will help support economic growth for years to come as we continue to strengthen America’s economy and increase our competitiveness.

As an engineer, I’m very impressed with the process that went into delivering this bridge.

The two states used a form of innovative contracting known as Design-Build to get this important project moving and keep it on track.

Design-Build is one of the strategies we’re advancing through an innovation initiative called Every Day Counts, which offers states a number of ideas for speeding project delivery.

This bridge is also unique because of the way it honors the past while incorporating today’s innovative technologies.

So well done, Maine and New Hampshire! Thanks for showing the nation how to put innovation to work!

This new bridge also advances the top priority of everyone in transportation, and that’s safety.
This bridge is going to make it safer to drive, walk or ride your bike across the river, giving people the kind of transportation choices they deserve.

But the driver also plays a critical role in safety and so it’s important that drivers stay focused on the road and not get distracted talking on the phone or sending a text.

I’m pleased that 41 states, including Maine and New Hampshire, have laws on the books that ban texting behind the wheel.

But the bottom line is that the driver has to use common sense and exercise good judgment.

So, in closing, let me remind you to always buckle your seat belt, put away your cell phone when you’re driving, watch out for pedestrians and people riding bikes, and simply drive safely.

Thank you very much!

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Page posted on August 8, 2013.
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