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Carson City Gateway: South Carson Street Complete Streets

Monday, April 9, 2018

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Carson City Gateway: South Carson Street Complete Streets
Carson City, NV
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Thank you, Lucia Maloney [Director of Carson City DOT], for that introduction.

And let me thank Senator Dean Heller and his wife Lynne, for joining us today. As a member of the Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation, Sen. Heller has been a strong voice for investment in transportation infrastructure.  Sen. Heller and Lynn are good friends of my husband and me, and do so much for Nevada.

Congressman Mark Amodei was supposed to attend, but his presence was required elsewhere.  Let me recognize Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.  Also, Kurt Englehart, regional representative for Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto, and Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell. Thank you, Mayor Crowell, for organizing to today’s wonderful event.

I’m so pleased to be here in front of Nevada’s state capitol building to celebrate the $7.5 million grant to complete the South Carson Street project. 

The planned improvement will rebuild this corridor to enhance pedestrian and bicycle facilities and will connect residents and tourists to the newly renovated downtown area. When complete, the project will make it easier to access job opportunities and businesses located along this route.  It will help strengthen and grow the local economy. Projects like this are fundamental to the well-being of this community by expanding transportation options that make it safer and easier to get around.

This year, the Department received 452 eligible applications for these grants! Only 41 projects were chosen—so Carson City can be proud that its proposal won in a very crowded and competitive field.

The project stood out during a very competitive process because of four things. First, it aligns with the Department’s commitment to enhancing safety. Second, it will improve the quality of life of Carson City residents, especially those living and working in this area. Third, it promotes innovation through the installation of fiber optic lines that will advance connectivity throughout the city. And last, the project shows the commitment of local officials, who are proposing to bring more than 10 million state and local dollars to the table.

As you know, this Administration has made infrastructure a high priority. It is the foundation of economic growth, competitiveness, and job creation.  The President’s goal is to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment, which includes a minimum of $200 billion in direct federal funding.  The guiding principles are to: 1) use federal dollars as seed money to incentivize infrastructure investment; 2) provide for the needs of rural communities; 3) streamline permitting to speed up project delivery; and, 4) reduce unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations.  In addition, a key element of the proposal is to empower decision making at the state and local level, because officials like you know best the infrastructure needs of your communities.

Half of the new infrastructure funds would go towards incentivizing new state and local investments in infrastructure. A quarter of the Federal funds will be dedicated to addressing rural infrastructure needs, as prioritized by state and local leaders.  And as a former Secretary of Labor, I’m pleased to note this plan also has a workforce component, to help workers access the skills needed to build these new projects.

The Department of Transportation is already applying these principles to grant programs like Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) and Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA). This helped Carson City’s proposal.  Projects like yours that pledged to provide state and local resources gained an additional advantage.

This project demonstrates the importance of cooperation between the Federal government and state and local governments. Local government is a natural partner in infrastructure. Counties own and maintain 46 percent of the nation’s public roads, 38 percent of its bridges and more than a third of its public airports. They help pay for 78 percent of the public transit systems. 

The Department’s role is to be your partner, because you know best the infrastructure needs of your community.

Before I close, let me also mention the Bus and Bus Facilities grant Senator Heller referred to. This grant from the Federal Transit Administration will help replace worn-out buses with newer, more efficient buses. The money is being awarded to three projects throughout the state and will also be used to build new bus shelters, upgrade passenger facilities and construct new support facilities to keep buses running safely and reliably. These updates are so important because Nevada is one of the fastest growing states in the nation and bus service is essential to keep people moving!  Look for more information on the FTA Bus and Bus Facilities grants to be officially announced tomorrow.

So, let me once again congratulate Carson City and Nevada officials for receiving this grant and the FTA bus and bus facilities grant. And thank you, Senator Heller for your support for investing in infrastructure. The Department looks forward to working with you and Mayor Crowell on the South Carson Street project, which will improve the quality of life and give the people of Carson City more transportation choices. Thank you.