DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR, FTA
ST. PAUL UNION DEPOT
ST. PAUL, MN
JANUARY 18, 2011
Introduction by Jim McDonough – Administrator Rogoff told me we will always lean forward to help make this project work. They’ve been supportive. Secretary LaHood had an opportunity to come here and he made a commitment that whatever they could do on their end to make this project work – they would be there. And so we’re glad to welcome Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan here and thank them for their support (applause).
Thank you, Jim for that very kind introduction.
I really am thrilled to be here today. I had to work my way through airport madness to do it but FAA gets a little bit of a nod for that, I guess. I also want to say that as a native Californian my bragging rights on the cold weather have even a brighter burnish I think so I’m pleased to be able to again be here with you today.
Administrator Peter Rogoff and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood send their congratulations.
As Jim mentioned, the Secretary personally toured this building in the fall of 2009, and he clearly saw the potential, back then, that has made this day possible.
This is exactly the kind of innovative project that the TIGER grant program was designed to support.
And our $35 million investment in this depot will contribute to the ripple effect that helps local businesses, while giving people a new choice – and maybe a first chance – to really make those connections to get from one place to another without a car.
But this TIGER grant is just one piece of the transportation puzzle.
And I know one of the great challenges here was hobbling together all of the different parts of funding that were required.
Over the last two years, through the Recovery Act and other programs, the Obama Administration has invested nearly $88 million right here in the Twin Cities, to make local transportation better than ever.
We’ve helped to put more clean-fuel electric and hybrid buses on the street and we’ve also helped to build long-overdue repairs to aging transit facilities. . .
And we’ve provided, as was mentioned, millions of dollars for a light rail system that is rapidly transforming Minneapolis-St. Paul into one of our most livable and sustainable metropolitan regions in this country.
And I’m particularly excited looking at the wonderful neighborhood surrounding this depot and I envision that as this project begins to develop the community is going to blossom and bloom even more. And I’m really hoping that I get a chance to come back and continue to see the development that’s bound to happen here.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the tremendous partnerships you’ve built here in Minnesota.
I think you’re going to hear that a lot today and in the future because it really is a hallmark of what you’ve been able to accomplish.
As Secretary LaHood has said time and again, the regions that get their priorities straight, and speak with one voice, stand the best chance of transforming their vision for a modern, connected transportation system and in this time when there’s so much we’re continuing to do to make this economy advanced. Your work here really is a shining example of what can be accomplished in more difficult times as well as we look forward to a brighter future.
So again many congratulations to you.
I want to thank the local business community which has been a hallmark of this effort, the transportation and labor leaders from all walks in this town and the ordinary citizens. . . who understand that good transportation choices are the lifeblood of the success of this community.
I also want to thank our friends at the Federal Highway Administration and Federal Railroad Administration, who both you know contributed greatly to this effort. It’s not often that we get compliments on coordinating among federal agencies and so I’m glad that we can hold this up as an example of what we can also do as well working in partnership with you.
Thank you especially to Congresswoman Mccollum and Senator Klobuchar, who I understand could not be with us today. But their support in supporting the President’s Recovery Act and keeping Minnesota’s economy moving forward really have been instrumental and we continue to seek their assistance in Washington as we continue our efforts there.
And again it can’t be said enough that a special thank-you to the former leader of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Jim Oberstar must be extended in all corners. He is here with us in spirit (applause). There was no greater champion for transportation then and for public transit and again. For more than three decades, he was an inspiring leader who accomplished a tremendous amount for people of Minnesota and the United States. And again we miss him and wish him well.
When the new Congress gets down to business, we’ll be working with members of both parties to find a bipartisan path forward.
After all, there is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican infrastructure project and there’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican job.
We all depend on safe infrastructure and job creation has go to be everyone’s priorities.
If we set aside our differences, invest wisely, and work together, anything is possible as you have demonstrated here.
And we can invest in job creation, economic opportunity, and competitiveness and give our community a chance to lead their lives and pursue their dreams in every way
Thank you so much for the invitation to come here and best of luck in your efforts going forward.