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President Obama visits New NY Bridge, a model of project delivery, innovative financing

President Obama visits New NY Bridge, a model of project delivery, innovative financing

This afternoon, I had the great privilege of joining President Obama at the Tappan Zee bridge, where work is underway to replace this nearly 60-year-old bridge with a new one, appropriately called the New NY Bridge. There, the President demonstrated his ongoing commitment to making 2014 a year of action by releasing a comprehensive plan to further accelerate project delivery by expanding his permitting reform efforts.

Fast Lane readers might recall that federal agencies completed the permitting and review for the New NY Bridge--a process that can take as long as 5 years--in about 1.5 years. So, it's a terrific example of how we can meet the Administration's goal of cutting timelines for major projects in half--and in this case even more than that.

Photo of President Obama at Tappan Zee Bridges
Photo courtesy Peter Carr, The Journal News

A number of strategies contributed to this success, including a coordinated timeline; use of concurrent rather than sequential review, so agencies reviewed plans at one time instead of one-at-a-time; and increased cooperation between DOT, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Today, more commuters and commercial vehicles use this bridge than ever before – more than 138,000 vehicles a day--that's a 30 percent jump in traffic from 1990.  We know that for them, every day counts until they get a new bridge.

Photo of traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge

That's why the White House released its Implementation Plan for the Presidential Memorandum on Modernizing Infrastructure today, and it's why the GROW AMERICA transportation proposal I sent to Congress a couple of weeks ago included several elements for speeding up project delivery while still protecting the environment.

Another key element of GROW AMERICA represented so well in the New NY Bridge project is our emphasis on innovative financing. That includes new support for our Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program that leverages DOT loans to secure private participation in transportation projects.

The New NY Bridge project has been able to transform a $1.6 billion TIFIA loan into nearly $5 billion in funding, and GROW AMERICA would increase access to TIFIA so other key projects in communities across the country could take advantage of this powerful multiplier.

A 21st Century infrastructure is essential to our nation's economic growth and to the way Americans live our lives. With GROW AMERICA, we've taken a big step toward that goal. Now, we need Congress to do its part and pass a multi-year transportation bill.

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