I’m thrilled to be here with you today.
Wherever I go, WTS is my home away from home.
So it’s great to be here to celebrate the Rhode Island chapter’s fifth birthday.
I am so proud of all of you for your hard work, your expertise, and your leadership in transportation.
Many of you are the “job creators” we hear so much about these days.
You’re on the front lines of our industry, planning, designing, building, and managing the transportation systems this country needs to continue growing, competing, and improving our quality of life—including right here in Rhode Island.
My message to all of you today is that President Obama gets it. Secretary LaHood gets it. And all of us at FTA certainly get it.
Investing in this country’s transportation infrastructure is absolutely vital to strengthening our economy and our communities.
As you know, the President and Secretary LaHood have been traveling around the country, standing up for the American Jobs Act.
I know you’ve heard a lot about it already, but let me share some details that may be new to you.
The goal here, as you know, is to pass this legislation as soon as possible so we can immediately put workers back on the job and put more money in the pockets of working Americans, as we rebuild our roads, bridges, airports, schools, and of course, transit systems.
There are three main components:
We know there are good projects all across this country just waiting to get started.
And we know there are millions of unemployed construction workers looking for jobs.
That’s why the American Jobs Act assigns more funding to DOT—$50 billion—than any other federal department.
A significant slice of that will help to buy new buses and rolling stock, and much-needed repairs for existing rail and bus systems, in urban, suburban, and rural areas around the country.
There’s also $5 billion for jobs on projects selected through a scaled-up TIGER program.
One other bit of welcome news: Up to 10 percent of the transit funds in this package could be used for operating assistance, which our recipients need in these tough times.
Now, what does all this have to do with all of you in Rhode Island? Plenty.
Under the American Jobs Act, transit providers in the Providence area would be eligible for more than $6.2 million to improve the state-of-good-repair for buses and bus facilities.
Another $1.4 million would be available to improve and modernize the region’s fixed-guideway systems.
And more than $208 million would be available in combined formula funds from FTA for Providence plus all the small and rural communities throughout Rhode Island.
Clearly, these funding streams would go a long way to help Rhode Island DOT—RIDOT—continue its work to extend commuter rail along the Northeast Corridor from Providence to Wickford Junction.
It would support RIDOT’s ongoing commitment to maintain and improve existing highway and rail infrastructure projects.
And it would boost RIPTA’s ability to pursue good transit projects like the proposed urban circulator in central Providence.
The President is asking Congress to pass this legislation right away, and with good reason: It’s going to create the jobs that people need right now, while building the infrastructure this country needs need for years to come.
Now, the fact is, we can’t make the American Jobs Act the law of the land without you.
In community after community, transformations are underway because of your tireless efforts – whether making your neighborhoods more livable… or your transit systems more accessible.
We need you to bring that same commitment to this critical push for the American Jobs Act. We need you not just to join the cause, but to lead it.
If we come together – if we fight to break through the do-nothing status-quo – we can give the American people the transportation choices they demand and deserve.
Now is the time to act.