Thank you for that kind introduction…
On behalf of President Obama and Secretary Ray LaHood, I'm delighted to be here today to celebrate Denver's future.
And we do have a lot to celebrate today.
As the Federal Transit Administrator, I'm here to celebrate Denver's vision. It's a vision:
- for a rejuvenated downtown;
- for quick and easy rail access between downtown and the suburbs
- for easy rail access from one suburban community to another.
- And is a vision for easy rail access to a great international airport.
Most importantly, I'm here to celebrate the fact that, this week, Denver's FasTracks program is taking two giant steps forward to becoming a reality.
Five days ago, President Obama sent his budget for 2011 to Congress. That budget included $80 million dollars for the Eagle projects –
- the East Line to the Airport
- and the Gold Line out to Ward Road.
These dollars are an initial downpayment on those projects. The most important part of Monday's announcement is that the Obama Administration committed itself to signing a Full Funding Grant Agreement for both of these projects.
That means that the Federal Transit Administration will be contributing over a billion dollars over the next few years to construct those two lines.
That's a billion dollars on top of the $300 million that we are already contributing to build the West Corridor Light Rail line.
That's a billion dollars and the hundreds and hundreds of jobs that come with it.
Today, we are taking another giant step forward.
I'm thrilled to announce that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is today approving over $300 million in loans to make a rejuvenated Union Station a reality.
Today's commitment means that all the funding sources for Union Station are now secure.
Make no mistake about it – Union Station is going to happen.
The West Corridor, the East Line, the Gold Line and Union Station are all at the center of Denver's FasTracks program. They are also at the center of President Obama's vision for economic recovery.
The Recovery Act is one of a many funding sources that will bring a new Union Station to life. And these projects are what the Recovery Act is all about.
They will create thousands of jobs NOW while improving the lives of millions of citizens in the future.
These projects are what the Obama Administration means when we talk about investing in America and creating jobs right here at home.
And when we create jobs by building projects like these – projects that greatly improve mobility around a region, it means that even more jobs will be coming in the future.
You watch -- more businesses will be relocating to Denver.
Why?? Because, with new rail lines, they will know that their employees and their products won't be spending hours stuck in traffic jams.
More businesses will be relocating to Denver because they will know that their workers will have a good quality of life.
It also will mean that parents will get home in time to actually have dinner with their kids – and supervise homework. It will mean that families will have a family life seven days a week rather than just two days a week.
While that is usually the case when we invest in public transit, the FasTracks vision takes it to a whole new level.
Mayor Hickenlooper, the RTD, the Union Station Authority, and the entire team, have demonstrated the vision, the flexibility and the sophistication to bring this network together in ways that no other cities have.
Union Station will actually piece together funding from so many separate Federal programs covering three different parts of the DOT.
This is the first project in the nation to combine:
- Recovery Act money
- Federal Transit dollars
- a TIFIA loan from the Federal Highway Administration
- and a RRIF loan from the Federal Railroad Administration
Frankly, no other project in America has even come close to integrating our programs so quickly and so effectively.
I think a lot of credit goes to my boss, Secretary LaHood, who, from his first day on the job, has moved our Department to one that is focused on delivering results for the American people.
Ray LaHood and the President Obama's DOT are about job creation and delivering results – not about bureaucracy and paperwork.
We are about building projects that will lead our economic recovery. And projects that will leave communities like Denver in a much better place when the jackhammers and the cranes are all gone.
That said, none of this would have happened without the aggressive and persistent leadership of Mayor Hickenlooper, Senator Bennet, Senator Udall, Congresswoman DeGette and Congressman Perlmutter.
As we have been working through the hurdles to make this project happen, Mayor Hickenlooper and your two fine Senators have been at the other end of our phone line – it seems, almost daily.
No day went by when we weren't reminded of the need to move Union Station forward because it seemed that no day went by when we didn't have a phone message from either Mayor Hickenlooper, Senator Bennet, Senator Udall, or Reps. DeGette and Perlmutter.
Back in September, Secretary LaHood, HUD Secretary Shaun Donavan and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson came to Denver to hear and see Mayor Hickenlooper's vision for a better, more livable Denver. That visit – and that vision -- left a big impression on all three of those leaders.
More than anything else, that visit, that vision, and the tireless persistence of your Mayor and Congressional delegation – people like Senator Bennet, that's why I'm here today.
So, on behalf of President Obama and Secretary LaHood, congratulations!
This is a great day for Denver. And it has arrived because of your hard work.