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I-85 Bridge in Atlanta Reopens Ahead of Schedule Thanks to Excellent Federal and State Collaboration

On May 18, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao joined Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the site of Atlanta’s new Interstate 85 bridge for a ceremonial reopening, less than seven weeks after the blaze that caused its collapse.

She told the crowd gathered there that, “The workers who helped to make today possible – the men and women who worked tirelessly to build this bridge – have impressed the nation and earned our thanks.  The real heroes are right here, among us.  Each one of them represents America’s best.”

The bridge work was completed a month ahead of schedule thanks to the quick influx of federal funds and fast and innovative financing for the contractor.  The nation’s newest bridge features cutting-edge prefabricated components and state-of-the-art accelerated curing concrete.


I-85 in Atlanta collapsed during rush hour on March 30 as a result of intense heat from a fire below.  The bridge serves as a major artery for Atlanta travelers, carrying nearly 243,000 vehicles daily.

The White House and Secretary Chao were quick to respond to the incident.  Within an hour of start of the fire, Secretary Chao was on the phone with Governor Deal to discuss the situation, and committed to releasing emergency funds to help begin repairs.  The next day, less than 24 hours after the bridge collapsed, the FHWA released $10 million in Emergency Relief funds to the Georgia State Department of Transportation.

As Secretary Chao told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week, the Department’s rapid response in Atlanta, which included a near-immediate on-the-ground presence followed by the quick release of emergency funds, is an “illustration of what is possible” when federal, state, and local governments work together effectively.

During the bridge reconstruction, commuters were able to rely upon the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) to get between home and work.  In the initial days following the collapse on I-85, MARTA ridership surged 25 percent system-wide, and over the following month and a half, the system continued to see a rail ridership increase of about 12 percent above average.   In announcing that the corridor would re-open on May 15, Governor Deal thanked MARTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, and the State Road and Tollway Authority for their leadership in providing commuters with other choices.

This incident highlights the urgent need to invest in America’s infrastructure.  The White House has made rebuilding America’s infrastructure a priority and is developing an investment plan which would provide a trillion dollars in public and private investments.  This incident also shows how important it is to have a multimodal transportation system that gives people a variety of choices – including public transportation – so that when one mode of transportation becomes temporarily unavailable, no one is left stranded.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this crucial project for a job well done.

A Message from the Secretary

Friday was a historic day for our Department as we hosted the President to close out Infrastructure Week. He visited the Department to highlight the importance of rebuilding and modernizing our nation's infrastructure, and to underscore the key role this Department plays in providing safe, efficient and modern infrastructure for our country.

I want to thank our colleagues who helped and participated in this event.  Putting it together took teamwork and all the hard work could be seen in the packed house and great welcome for the President and his message of infrastructure renewal.  

So thank you again, and I look forward to continuing to work with you on our important mission.

Secretary Chao Joins President Trump in Announcing Historic Infrastructure Regulatory Reform

Today, I was proud to join President Donald J. Trump and hundreds of infrastructure workers and stakeholders in the closing event of “Infrastructure Week” at USDOT Headquarters in Washington.

It was a real honor to hear the President outline the Administration’s vision for improving America’s roads, railways, and other infrastructure projects.  We are so fortunate because this President is a builder who understands the challenges facing our country’s infrastructure better than any national leader in recent memory.

I am pleased to announce today that USDOT has published a Federal Register notice seeking public input on ways to identify and reduce unnecessary regulatory obstacles that too often stand in the way of completing important infrastructure projects across the nation.

USDOT is requesting input because public and private project sponsors, engineering and construction professionals, related industry organizations, and other transportation stakeholders are likely to have valuable direct experience with the Department’s requirements.  That experience supplements the Department’s employees’ expertise and may help identify when a requirement has become an unnecessary obstacle.

USDOT Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen chairs the Department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force, formed earlier this year in accordance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13777, which directs each agency to establish an RRTF to make recommendations to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens.  The Task Force has already acted on what we’ve been hearing and identified dozens of ways to streamline the process.  But we know you can help us identify more.

As Deputy Secretary Rosen said, “This is part of a greater focus by the Administration to remain responsive to the needs of the public and industry, rather than pushing a ‘top down, government knows best’ approach to regulation.  We expect this process will help us uncover ways to assist in better deploying infrastructure – ways we hadn’t even thought of.”

If you have any ideas, we want to hear from you!  Please visit over the next 45 days and share your expertise with us.

At South by Southwest, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Announces Launch of Council to Support Emerging Transportation Technology

AUSTIN, TX – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the creation of the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology (NETT) Council, an internal deliberative body at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tasked with identifying and resolving jurisdictional and regulatory gaps that may impede the deployment of new technology, such as tunneling, hyperloop, autonomous vehicles, and other innovations. Secretary Chao made the announcement during her...

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao Joined by Jacksonville Officials to Formally Announce $25 Million BUILD Grant for Revitalization Projects

JACKSONVILLE – U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today made the formal announcement of a $25 million grant to support the Bay Street Innovation Corridor and Urban Core Riverfront Revitalization projects in Jacksonville. Secretary Chao was joined by Congressman John Rutherford (FL-04), Congressman Al Lawson (FL-05), Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) CEO...

30th Anniversary Remembrance of the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie Bombing

Remarks Prepared for Delivery byU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao30th Anniversary Remembrance of the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie BombingAt the Pan Am Flight 103 Memorial CairnArlington National CemeteryFriday, December 21, 2018Thank you, Kathy [Tedeschi], for inviting me to participate in the 30th anniversary remembrance of the Pan Am Flight 103 terrorist bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. It is an honor to be here with you-- as you remember your husband...

DOT Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

Remarks Prepared for Delivery byU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. ChaoDOT Hispanic Heritage Month CelebrationWashington, DCSeptember 26, 2018Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you, Irene [Rico, Associate Administrator for Civil Rights in FHWA], for that introduction.  Thank you, Juan Reyes [Chief Counsel, Federal Railroad Administration], for serving as Master of Ceremony.  Let me acknowledge Hispanics in Transportation President Cecilia Madan and...

FAA Pilot Summit

Remarks Prepared for Delivery byU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. ChaoFAA Pilot SummitArlington, VAThursday, September 13, 2018 Thank you, Dan [Elwell] for that introduction.I would like to recognize some special guests today.  Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson is with us today. Robert Isom, President of American Airlines is here.  I have to give a special shout out to my fellow Kentuckian, Dennis Sinnett.  He is the aviation coordinator at Eastern...

​​​​​​​Faith and Freedom Coalition

Remarks Prepared for Delivery byU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. ChaoFaith and Freedom CoalitionRoad to the Majority Policy ConferenceWashington, D.C.Friday, June 8, 2018Thank you, Ralph [Reed, Founder & Chairman].  It is a pleasure to be here with friends who share a vision of our country that protects and promotes faith, freedom, family and opportunity.  These have been the touchstones of my life and in my career.  These are the values that motivated...