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Remarks by Greg Nadeau, Deputy Administrator, FHWA

I-215 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

San Bernardino, California

Friday, January 24, 2014 at 10 AM

Good morning, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here in beautiful Southern California to celebrate the opening of this outstanding project.

At the Federal Highway Administration, we pride ourselves on seeing projects through to completion. This one is no exception.

In September of 2009, Victor Mendez, who was our Administrator at the time, helped break ground on phases three and four.

Today, Victor is serving as the Department’s new Acting Deputy Secretary. He wanted very much to be here today, but with so many new commitments, he was unable to join us.

As FHWA Deputy Administrator, it’s been my honor to fulfill the duties of Administrator since the President and the Secretary elevated Victor to his new position in December. And it’s my privilege to represent him here today.

The I-215 project is a symbol of America’s recovery from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

We committed $128 million in Recovery Act funds to widen this important corridor, making it one of the six largest ARRA projects in the country.

By the way, four of those top six are right here in California.

That investment in I-215 didn’t just widen an important road.

It also created thousands of jobs, helping bring paychecks – and hope – to an area that was hit hard by the economic downturn.

Now, this widened corridor is going to help improve safety and mobility for people and goods for decades to come.

It’s going to provide what President Obama calls a “ladder of opportunity,” linking people to jobs, school, services – and each other.

Well done, San Bernardino!

But we all know the bigger truth. There are roads all across the country that need to be widened or otherwise improved.

As our Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said, we have a ‘transportation deficit’ in this country, not just with our highways, but across all modes.

And the longer we wait to address it, the more it will cost.

The Administration and some members of Congress are starting to offer ideas about how to fund our highway system going forward.

And we need to be better and smarter in how we spend that money, so we can deliver projects – and their benefits – sooner.

Working alongside our partners, like those here in California, we’re making tremendous progress in that direction through our Every Day Counts initiative.

And we’re showing Congress and the American people that if they’re willing to invest in transportation, we’re able to use that investment efficiently to save money, save time and save lives.

Of course, our commitment to safety remains our Number One priority.

The work that’s been done on I-215 will make travel safer here in Southern California for more than 80,000 drivers every day.

But roads are only part of the safety equation. The driver also plays an important part.

Distracted driving continues to be a major problem in this country.

We’re very pleased that California is one of 41 states and the District of Columbia to ban texting behind the wheel.

And let’s not forget the importance of good judgment and plain old common sense.

That’s why it’s become a tradition at the Federal Highway Administration to end our speeches with a simple reminder:

Buckle your seat belt. Put away your cell phone when you’re driving. Watch out for walkers, joggers and people riding bikes. And, simply, drive safely.

Thank you very much!

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Page posted on May 21, 2015.
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