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BUILD Grant Ceremony (Jacksonville, FL)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
BUILD Grant Ceremony
Jacksonville, Florida
Friday, February 8, 2019

Thank you, Kevin [Thibault, Florida DOT Secretary].  It’s great to be here in Jacksonville today!

Let me thank the City of Jacksonville for hosting us, and acknowledge a number of very special dignitaries: U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, Mayor Lenny Curry, City Council President Aaron Bowman, JTA Board Chairman Kevin Holzendorf, and JTA CEO Nathaniel Ford.  And let me acknowledge State Representative Wyman Duggan.

I’m so pleased to be here today in partnership with the state, City of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority to formally announce the U.S. Department of Transportation’s award of $25 million in BUILD grant funding to help rebuild and revitalize key infrastructure in Jacksonville.

As the President noted in his State of the Union address, infrastructure is the backbone of our nation’s economy.  It is key to remaining competitive in the 21st century economy, and to improving our country’s quality of life.  It must be addressed at every level—local, state and federal.   That’s why the President

has called upon Congress to pass a bill that delivers new and important infrastructure investment to rebuild our crumbling roads, aging bridges, crowded airports, and other infrastructure.

The Department of Transportation has already received a down payment on the President’s plan: an additional $10 billion in the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  And I’m pleased to note that the Department is dispersing these funds as quickly as possible, so communities like Jacksonville can get a head start on building for the future.

The grant award we are celebrating today is part of DOT’s BUILD program. BUILD grants are major investments in state and local road, rail, transit, and port projects.   Projects are evaluated according to many criteria, including their potential to improve safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection and state of good repair.  In addition, the Department looked for projects that are innovative and include broadband service to underserved communities, public-private partnerships, and non-federal investments.  Jacksonville scored especially well on these criteria.  In fact, it was one of the 91 grants selected from 851 eligible applications.  So congratulations!  It was a very competitive process. 

The Jacksonville BUILD award funds two key projects.  The first $12.5 million will help jump start the Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization project.  It will reconnect the waterfront area and allow for greater residential and commercial development along the Shipyards and Sports and Entertainment complex. This project will also install broadband conduits along the corridor, and for the surrounding neighborhood. The second $12.5 million will help launch the Bay Street Innovation Corridor. Among other projects, it will implement an autonomous transit network that includes cutting-edge, smart technologies.

These investments will help transform downtown Jacksonville by bracketing the downtown area with major improvements and smart technologies.  This is exactly the type of investment the President envisioned in his call for 21st century infrastructure that includes new, smart technologies.       

The Department’s role doesn’t stop here.  We are your partner in helping to achieve your goals.  So we look forward to continuing to work with you, as you embark on this innovative revitalization of the Jacksonville downtown area.

Thank you for being here today!