Sahara BRT Groundbreaking, Las Vegas, NV

2/24/2011

Let’s here it for the Rat Pack (applause).  Ms. Monroe, thank you for joining us. 

And we are very honored to have the FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff here.

Peter, if you want to come out and bring these projects with you…we certainly appreciate it. 

And again on behalf of the RTC and the community thank you for joining us today (applause).

Thank you.  You can say when we did the opening at the Bonneville Center there were roller girls and big snakes.  That was a first for me as FTA Administrator and Marilyn you are also a first for me as FTA Administrator. 

Let me say that this is a great day for both mobility and recovery in Las Vegas…in Nevada ..in Clark County. 

It’s a great day not only because we’re going to launch a project that’s going to sustain 500 jobs.  It’s a great day because this project is really going to improve the quality of life for the residents of this community. 

It’s going to do great things in terms of economic development for the businesses all over along this corridor all the way from Walapei to Boulder Express Way and beyond. 

So on behalf of President Obama and Transportation Secretary LaHood I’m really here just to say congratulations on having the outstanding vision to connect your transit services with this critical east-west link. 

You know the Recovery Act just created thousands of jobs across Nevada with highway projects, with transit projects with energy projects. 

But this project is unique. 

The RTC had to compete in probably the most rigorous competition that the DOT has ever had for these funds.  We received for the $1.5 billion, that we had to disperse under this program we had over $60 billion in applications…we had 1400 separate applications. 

But President Obama’s team selected this project first and foremost because we knew Nevada very much needed the jobs. 

We certainly heard from our friend, Harry Reid regularly on the importance of bringing this to reality.  But this is also a visionary project—project that can really transform these neighborhoods and importantly it’s not our vision…this project wasn’t concocted in Washington D.C. 

This project was developed and designed right here in Las Vegas. 

What the Recovery Act did is take that vision and turn it into a real project with real jobs and real promise.  It’s doing what Recovery Act projects are doing all over the country…they’re creating the jobs now but they’re creating jobs on projects that are really going to improve the quality of life for folks for generations to come. 

For those people that want to question whether the Recovery Act is creating jobs …ask these guys.  Ask the hundreds of people who are going to be working on this project up and down Sahara Avenue over the course of the next year.  Ask them what that paycheck means especially working in the really punished construction sector right now.  Ask them what that paycheck means as far as making rent, paying a mortgage, making a car payment, buying clothes for their kids in school. 

And importantly, one of the things bus rapid transit systems do…is they provide safe, clean and reliable transit and I really want to emphasize that word reliable.  At the peak of rush hour in the afternoons along this corridor, this traffic here estimates to go down to about eight miles per hour. 

That’s not a reliable way to get around…..that doesn’t give a kid comfort to know that mom or dad are going to be there to pick them up.  The difference between that kind of transit and having designated lanes with signal priority that’s going to guarantee these buses a green light at just about every corner…..that’s reliable transit. 

It’s the difference between knowing that you’re going to get home to supervise homework or not.  It’s the difference between knowing that you’re going to be able to get home in time to have dinner with your family or not.  These are real quality of life issues for the residents all along this area. 

Also, quite frankly in this economy reliable transit means the difference between keeping a new job or not.  No employer is interested in a worker who can’t get to work on time and know that and know that they can get there reliably. 

And when you’re trying to get a new job, as so many folks around here are, and they want to keep that job they need to know that they’re going to be able to get there on time and also get home on time. 

So that’s the difference that bus rapid transit makes and like I said it’s going to do a great job in connecting the investments we’ve already made in transit in this area.  It’s going to connect with the downtown express service…it’s going to connect with the Boulder Highway Express Service …it’s going to connect with the monorail. 

So importantly, I just want to say how appropriate it is to be up here on this stage celebrating a Recovery Act project with Senator Harry Reid.  Before President Obama honored me by nominating me to be the Federal Transit Administrator I worked on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee for 22 years.

And during that time I had the privilege of witnessing what a fierce advocate Harry Reid is for the transportation needs of Nevada. 

Importantly, it’s not just about the transportation needs of Nevada, he’s also a fierce advocate for the transportation needs of the transportation investment across the United
States when he served as Chairman of the Environmental Public Works Committee, when he served as Majority Whip and now as he’s serving as Majority Leader. 

Just a few weeks ago many of you heard President Obama articulate in his State of the Union message, a vision…a bold vision for winning the future through investments in education and innovation and investments in infrastructure. There are just the kinds of projects that he’s talking about. 

Taking hard-earned tax dollars and investing them right here at home and improving our quality of life. He’s going to put forward a six-year comprehensive reauthorization bill that’s going to set the path for transportation spending, highways, transit… rail systems for the next six years.

That bill is going to have to report out of four separate committees in the Senate. 

When they all go to one place…they go to that man’s desk and he’s the one that has to get them through the whole senate and help us make progress.  I can tell you as residents of Nevada should take great comfort that Harry Reid is going to be there to make sure that bill is crafted in a fashion that works for Nevada. 

We, in the Obama Administration take great comfort in knowing that Harry Reid is going to be there to help us get that legislation over the finish line.

So your fortunate…we’re fortunate…the people of this corridor is fortunate.

It’s a great day for mobility along the Sahara Corridor.

Thank you very much (applause).

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