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Remarks by Gregory Nadeau, Acting Administrator, FHWA

Every Day Counts Round 3 Summits

October, 7, 2014

Arlington, Virgina

Thanks very much, Chris. And good morning, everyone! Thank you for joining us!

I can’t think of a better way to kick things off than with special greetings from someone who cares deeply about America’s transportation system and the vital role it plays in linking people to jobs and other opportunities.

So without further ado, it’s my honor to introduce a distinguished guest to get this summit officially underway.


My thanks to Secretary Foxx for taking the time to record that message and for his strong support for Every Day Counts and the pursuit of innovation.

I also want to acknowledge some of our valued friends and partners who are joining us here today – and who work alongside us every day in moving America forward:

  • Bud Wright, the Executive Director of AASHTO, who we’ll hear from in just a minute;

  • State CEOs;

  • Jeff Paniati, our FHWA Executive Director, who’s going to take us through the Round 3 innovations.

If past summits are any indication, you’re in for an interesting and informative couple of days. You might even have some fun along the way.

We’re very excited about the 11 innovations that will make up EDC Round 3.

And we’re especially excited about their potential to build on the progress we’ve already made to improve project delivery and deploy innovative technologies.

Many of you have been to one of these summits before, so you know what to expect.

That includes my jokes and stories, which I hope you’ll laugh at as though you’re hearing them for the first time.

Welcome back!

And, of course, we welcome those who are attending their first summit.

You can expect a deep dive into the Round 3 innovations and a clear sense of the difference they can make if they’re deployed in your state.

I also wanted to let you know that you’re not just here to learn. You’re here to contribute as well.

Your experience, perspectives and insight will be extremely valuable as we break into small groups. Feel free to share them!

Think of yourself as part of a growing “movement” that’s coming together around a better, faster and smarter approach to delivering transportation to the American people.

We invite and we value your participation in that movement.

During the first two rounds, we engaged more than 3,500 people in these summits.

That tells me the summits are worth the time and effort that go into them.

But the truth is, we simply wouldn’t be here without you – the people I describe as being on the frontlines of project delivery.

You shared – loud and clear – your frustration with the slow pace of project delivery and the concerns you were hearing directly from the public about why their commute continued to take so long or their company had to spend so much extra time and money moving freight.

These people would hear about plans for a new road or a new interchange that would make their lives easier or their business more efficient. But years, even decades later, that project still hadn’t been built.

In sharing that frustration, you gained a powerful and persuasive ally in Victor Mendez, who was asked during his confirmation hearing as Administrator a very simple, but complex, question: Why does it take so long to get a project built?

The combination of your concerns and his own sense that we could do better, inspired Victor to reach out to AASHTO and other stakeholders to create the initiative that was launched in 2009 under the banner Every Day Counts.

From Day One, the focus of Every Day Counts could be summed up in one word: innovation.

Over the first two rounds of EDC, we’ve deployed about two dozen innovations that we distilled from literally hundreds of ideas we got from people like you.

That response confirmed for us just how deep the pool of ideas ran in this industry and how much pent up demand there was to share those ideas and put them to work.

That’s exactly what we’ve done.

We’ve deployed “process innovations” that are making measurable improvements to streamline project delivery.

And we’re putting to work innovative technologies that are making our roads safer, our air cleaner, and are helping state and local governments stretch every transportation dollar as far as possible.

That’s the legacy we start building on today.

But Victor laid down a second fundamental principle that has also guided EDC from the beginning.

It’s the principle that we don’t pursue innovation for its own sake. This isn’t a laboratory.

We pursue innovation because it can make a positive difference in people’s lives and because it can improve the way we deliver transportation to communities all across the country.

Innovation is also an important complement to something the Secretary mentioned right at the beginning – the need for Congress to make a long-term investment in America’s transportation infrastructure.

Earlier this year, we proposed a sizeable increase in transportation funding in our GROW AMERICA Act.

That’s what I talk about when I travel around the country. I call them the Two I’s – investment and innovation – because they’re really inter-related.

It’s our job – as transportation professionals – to show Congress that we’ll match their investment in transportation with our commitment to use innovation to make sure we deliver the greatest value for every dollar they invest.

Thanks to you, that won’t be a problem!

The work we’re doing together is having an impact in every state, and across the nation.

We’re saving lives, saving money and saving time – exactly the kinds of results we said we’d deliver if we made innovation a standard industry practice.

In just a minute, we’ll share some national highlights from the first two rounds of EDC and briefly introduce each of the EDC-3 innovations.

You’ll also hear some EDC success stories – the “Greatest Hits,” so to speak – from the states attending this summit.

I hope you’ll be proud of what you hear. After all, you made it happen.

So, thank you for that. And thank you for coming here today and committing to the work that lies ahead.

If you’ve been anywhere near the sound of my voice for the last five years, you know that I believe the best way to advance that work is through the State Transportation Innovation Councils or STICs.

Since the earliest days of Every Day Counts, we’ve described the STICs as putting the state in the driver’s seat to select and quickly deploy the innovations that address the state’s unique needs.

Several weeks ago, Delaware and Maryland became the 44th and 45th states to create a formally chartered STIC.

This was an important milestone.

Not only did it put us well past our goal of having 40 STICs by the end of this year, but it strengthens the national innovation network that we’ve been building.

Now, it’s time that put that network into action.

Let me apologize in advance to those of you who’ve heard my favorite Abraham Lincoln quote before.

And let me also apologize to those who lost the side bet with their neighbor on whether I would call up that quote one more time.

But the story is perfect for this occasion and for the place where we find ourselves in terms of the innovation network.

The quote is this: Lincoln said that if he had six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.

In other words, it’s important to prepare and lay the proper groundwork.

For the past five years, states have been sharpening their axe.

They’ve been recruiting STIC members, writing charters, choosing and deploying innovations.

They’ve re-affirmed the fact that all innovation, like all politics, is local, and should be dedicated to meeting local needs.

They’ve proven that the STIC is an effective way for rapidly deploying innovation.

And they’ve written the success stories that will be shared in just a few minutes.

Thank you for making the STIC in your state such a resounding success.

But having sharpened the axe, it’s now time to tackle that tree!

It’s time to strengthen and sustain the STICs not just as individual bodies, but as a network dedicated to making innovation deployment standard practice across the industry and across the country.

And it’s time to imagine a future that would have seemed like science fiction not too many years ago.

Put those blueprints, file folders and three-ring binders in the storeroom of your memory.

And think, for example, about a process that stretches as a paperless continuum from project planning and approval, to design and construction, to management and maintenance.

But that’s the future we – you – are building.

You’re building it with every state that commits to using Geospatial Data tools, eNEPA, 3-D engineered models, intelligent compaction and eConstruction.

It’s a future where we save tremendous amounts of time and money, and where we deliver better quality projects to the public – and do it sooner.

As the legendary football coach, George Allen, once said, “The future is NOW.”

It’s a future being created through an innovation network and culture where ideas and best practices are easily and seamlessly exchanged.

That network and that culture will be the true legacies of Every Day Counts because they’ll outlast any branded program, any FHWA official or any state CEO.

By being here today, you’ve re-affirmed your commitment to building those legacies state by state, STIC by STIC, and project by project.

FHWA is here to support you every step of the way.

Our Center for Accelerating Innovation is a valuable source of information, support and guidance.

But you are the champions of change, and by being here today you’ve re-affirmed your commitment to the ongoing process of finding, choosing and deploying innovation.

Thank you for your leadership and for making a difference.

I hope you have a successful summit.

Thank you very much!

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