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Remarks at Denver International Airport on Investing in America's Airports

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Remarks Prepared for Delivery by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Investing in America's Airports
Denver International Airport (DEN)
Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Thank you, Chris for that introduction.

I’m so pleased to be in Colorado to announce several new investments in the state’s transportation system and to learn more about your transportation achievements and needs.  I am also looking forward to visiting United’s new state-of-the-art Denver Flight Training Center.  As a former Secretary of Labor, I applaud employers who invest in employee skills. 

Denver International Airport generates more than $26 billion in regional economic activity each year.  Airports can also be a real boon to communities, especially rural communities which have been neglected for far too long.  I am happy to report that in FY2019, 12 out of 28 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants that will be made to Colorado will go to communities designated as Opportunity Zones.

I am also pleased to announce that over the past two months, the Department has awarded Colorado airports almost $48 million in Airport Improvement Program grants.  These grants are represented by the check to my right!

These grants were awarded in three separate installments.  Of that amount, Denver International Airport has requested or received nearly $18.9 million in the past two months.  The grants include $15.733 million for rehabilitation of Runway 17R/35L and its lighting system, and $3.162 million to repair Taxiways B and H and their related lighting systems.  The Airport has also requested $1.38 million to assist in acquiring air and ground power units.  This brings the total AIP grants awarded to Denver International Airport since FY2017 to more than $51.4 million

And while we are on the topic of AIP grants, I am also pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding $477.5 million in Airport Improvement Program grants nationwide.  This is represented by the check on my left.  This total includes grants to the following Colorado airports:

Colorado Springs Municipal Airport is receiving a $2.05 million AIP grant to help with design of a de-icing apron as well as reconstruction of 11,000 feet of runway.  Future construction of this project will be funded by a combination of local and AIP funds.

Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden is receiving a grant of nearly $1.6 million.  This will fund the start of a three-phase terminal building expansion project, purchase of snow removal equipment, and rehabilitation of an apron and two taxiways.

Montrose Regional Airport is receiving $682,199 to fund design of a terminal expansion project to allow more efficient movement of passengers and luggage. 

And, Rangely Airport will receive $104,401 for new runway signs and repainting or runway markers to meet current FAA design standards.

I would like to add that Colorado is also receiving funding for non-aviation transportation projects from the Department of Transportation.  During this administration, the state has received FASTLANE grants totaling more than $102 million for highway improvements on US 550, I-25 and I-70 in FY2017 and 2018.

Colorado also received more than $65 million in BUILD and its predecessor TIGER grants that are contributing to projects that will cost more than $364 million.  These projects include reconstruction, widening of bridges, and installation of fiber optics cable along 540 miles of Colorado’s interstate corridors. 

This project, called the V2X Technology Safety and Mobility Improvement Project, will enable vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems that may alleviate congestion and reduce the occurrence of roadway collisions and fatalities.    It will be the first system of its kind to be deployed on a state level, and the country’s first commercial-scale connected vehicle environment using V2X technology.

These investments in transportation infrastructure will position Colorado to benefit during this exciting period of economic growth. Our economy is booming, thanks to this Administration’s pro-growth economic and regulatory agenda.

  • The U.S. economy grew 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019;
  • The number of job openings exceeded the number of unemployed Americans by the largest margin on record in April;
  • And, businesses have added over 5.8 million jobs since the 2016 election.

And the future can be even brighter with completion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Nearly 25 years after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it was time to update our trade policies with Mexico and Canada. The President worked hard to help negotiate the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – a comprehensive, 21st Century agreement with two of our most critical trade partners.

The USMCA is a bipartisan agreement that can deliver a win for America’s farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers. And, it will help address longstanding trade imbalances by granting American businesses across all sectors of our economy greater freedom to sell their goods and services throughout North America.

The agreement not only keeps most tariffs between the three countries at zero, it also does more than any prior agreement to eliminate non-tariff barriers and unfair subsidies.

These Airport Improvement Program grant projects align with the Department of Transportation’s top three priorities. The first is: safety is always #1. It is the foundation of everything the Department does.

The second priority is rebuilding and refurbishing our country’s infrastructure. This is vital to our country’s productivity, economic vitality and quality of life for everyone.

And the third priority is preparing for the future – by engaging with emerging technologies to address legitimate public concerns about safety, security, and privacy, without hampering innovation.

You already know this, your Senator Cory Gardner is on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the U. S. Department of Transportation, so we work closely with him.  We are so pleased his staffers are here today with us:  Andrew Merritt, State Director and Annie Larson - Denver regional director.  Sen. Gardner supported improvements to Peña Boulevard that connect Denver International Airport to downtown Denver, as well as federal grants for projects on Interstate-70 and Interstate-25. Let me add that Kevin Vargas, a staffer for Congressman Jason Crow is here today. We also work with Senator Bennett and other elected State officials as well.

With improved transportation infrastructure in place, communities can help build a better quality of life, increase safety, move people and freight faster and create more jobs and opportunities.

Again, thanks for having me here today!