Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
I-80/I-90 PUSH Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Thank you for that warm introduction, Governor!
Before we start, I would like to pause for a moment to say that our hearts are with Texans who have endured the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey this past weekend. The Department and I have been in touch with Governor Abbott. I have mobilized the Department of Transportation to provide whatever assistance Texas requires to restore the state’s transportation system. Helping each other is a basic American value we all share.
This is a proud day for Hoosiers!
I am so pleased to be here on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence, on the “Main Street of the Midwest,” with Governor Eric Holcomb to celebrate completion of the I-80/90 PUSH project. This is a great example of what Americans can do when we work together.
For this project, 73 miles of pavement have been completely rehabilitated and improved. 53 bridges were upgraded and repaired. And a fiber optic communication system was installed, making this not only a better road but a “smarter” road. Thanks to these improvements, travelers will find I-80/90 faster, smoother, safer and future-ready, as well as requiring far less maintenance.
This project is also a great example of a public-private partnership.
The $200 million upgrade was funded locally by tolls generated by the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC). It created 400 jobs and over $800 million of economic activity in Indiana. Indiana should be commended for adopting this innovative financing mechanism, which is widely used around the world, and is a key part of this Administration’s infrastructure proposal.
This project also demonstrates the importance of giving state and local government the flexibility and control to design their own transportation solutions. The Indiana Toll Road is not federally funded. The U.S. Department of Transportation provided assistance at times, and federal funds were used to complete interchanges. By 1980, however, Indiana had reimbursed the federal government for the funds it provided. This project is a credit to the state and local leadership, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and of course, the people of Indiana. It has proven to be an economic asset for Indiana, the Midwest, and our country as a whole.
Again, this is a great example of a public-private partnership that was under budget, ahead of schedule and will improve economic vitality, increase productivity and enhance the quality of life for residents of the region.
I want to acknowledge the presence of Brandye Hendrickson, Indiana’s own former Commissioner of Transportation, who is now Acting Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. There are other great Indiana leaders serving in this Administration, including the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates and Vice President Mike Pence.
The Vice President has worked hard to ensure the I-90/I-80 toll road renovation would take place. He was present when it was announced. But because he is focused, along with the President, on helping the residents of Texas, he could not return for the ribbon cutting. He sends his best to everyone!
Once again, congratulations on this great achievement! This is a proud day for Indiana. I hope the project here will be an example to the rest of the country on how to address infrastructure needs.