Remarks as delivered by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Loudoun County Northstar Blvd TIGER Grant Roll Out
Loudoun County, VA
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Thank you, Joe [Kroboth-Director of Loudoun County Transportation and Capital Infrastructure Department]. Let me thank Rep. Barbara Comstock for joining us today. As a member of the House Transportation Committee, she has been very supportive of investment in transportation infrastructure. She’s hardworking, dedicated, always advocating for people in her district – we enjoy working with her.
Let me recognize the members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors who are with us today: Chair Phyllis Randall, Matthew Letourneau, from the Dulles District, and Tony Buffington, Jr., from the Blue Ridge District. Also with us are: Robert H. Cary, [Chief Deputy Commissioner, Virginia Department of Transportation], and Martin Nohe, [Chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority].
And let me acknowledge from the Federal Highways Administration: Jessie Yung, [Administrator of the Virginia division], and Gilberto DeLeon, [Project Delivery Team Leader in the Virginia office].
I’m so pleased to be here to celebrate the $25 million TIGER grant to complete the Northstar Boulevard project.
The planned improvement will increase traffic capacity, provide an alternate route when flooding occurs, and add a second major road link to Dulles International Airport. This will benefit not only the residents of Loudoun County, but every person in this region who depends upon Dulles International Airport. It shows how investment in rural infrastructure often benefits both urban and rural communities.
This year, the Department received 452 applications for TIGER grants! 41 projects were chosen—so Loudoun County can be proud that its proposal won in a very crowded and competitive field.
This project stood out because of three things. First, it reaffirms the Department’s commitment to keeping infrastructure in good condition. Second, it improves quality of life and economic competitiveness in the region. And third, the project shows local commitment – it proposes to bring more than $54 million state and local dollars to the table!
Infrastructure needs to be a national priority. It is the foundation of our country’s competitiveness, and job creation. The Administration proposes 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, where officials know best the infrastructure needs of their 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.
It all comes together in Loudoun County.
The Department of Transportation is already applying these principles to grant programs like TIGER and Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA). This helped Loudoun County’s proposal. Projects like yours that pledged to provide state and local resources gained an additional advantage. So did rural and mixed rural-urban projects. More than 65 percent of the most recent TIGER grants awarded went to rural, or mixed urban-rural projects like yours.
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.
Let me once again congratulate the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, Loudoun County and Virginia officials for winning the TIGER grant, and thank Representative Comstock for her hard work on rebuilding our infrastructure. The Department looks forward to working with you on the Northstar Boulevard Project, which will improve the quality of life and ease congestion for the people of Loudoun County.