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Remarks by Gregory Nadeau, Acting Administrator, FHWA

Kennebec Bridge Ribbon Cutting Event

Dresden, Maine

Friday, December 5, 2014

Thank you, David, for that generous introduction and for your leadership here in Maine.

Senator Collins, it’s an honor to share the program with you. Thank you for being a true champion and leader in Congress for strengthening America’s infrastructure and building America’s economic future.

It’s a great pleasure to be back home and to join all of you in this wonderful event.

I’m a lifelong resident of Lewiston where my brother, Phil Nadeau is the Deputy City Administrator. He is also a former Richmond town manager, so for me there’s a family connection to this community as well. Like Senator Collin’s – I work in Washington but Maine is our home.

It’s my privilege to represent our nation’s transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, and all of my colleagues at the US Department of Transportation.

Secretary Foxx has a very interesting way of describing the state of our nation’s infrastructure.

He always mentions all the miles of road that need repair. And then he adds that we have more than 100,000 bridges “old enough to qualify for Medicare.”

Well, Mr. Secretary, there’s one fewer of those today!

Today, we say goodbye to a bridge that was built during the administration of Herbert Hoover, and say hello to a new bridge that will meet the needs of the people of central Maine – whether they drive a car, haul freight in a truck, ride a bicycle or walk.

The Secretary’s line about our aging roads and bridges always gets a laugh. But it also highlights a very serious problem.

This nation needs a long-term plan for funding our infrastructure and closing our “infrastructure deficit.”

We can’t keep relying on band-aids, patches and temporary fixes when it comes to funding the system that keeps our people and our economy moving – not just between Richmond and Dresden, but between Maine and California!

We’ve sent our friends in Congress a proposal called the GROW AMERICA Act.

It’s a four-year, $302 billion proposal that would help state transportation leaders like Commissioner Bernhardt plan and invest in major projects that would create jobs, make people safer and improve their commute to work.

The President’s proposal would continue the popular TIGER grant program that helped jump start this project with a grant of nearly $11 million.

If you want to get a sense of the demand for infrastructure funding in this country, the TIGER program is a good place to start.

A couple of months ago, we awarded the latest round of grants totaling $600 million.

But we got applications for 15 TIMES that amount.

And it’s been the same story through the five previous TIGER rounds, where demand for funding has been 10 or 20 times the amount we had available.

It shows that there are many worthy projects – projects that would be ladders of opportunity connecting people to jobs and school and health care – that may never get built because there’s no funding.

But it also shows how a tenacious community, a dedicated state DOT and a true champion like Senator Collins can work together to create a winning proposal!

So I wanted to come here today to salute that very effective partnership and congratulate everyone for making such an effective case for this new bridge.

Well done!

I always like to remind people that safety is the Number One priority of all of us in the transportation community.

I urge you to always buckle your seat belt, put away your cell phone when you’re driving, and simply drive safely.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Thank you very much!

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Page posted on May 21, 2015.
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