March 3, 2009
Transcript: Obama, Biden Announce Transportation Investment
President Barack Obama addresses a crowd gathered at the Department of Transportation to discuss infrastructure spending, as Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood listen. (Source: White House)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden Announce Investment in Transportation Infrastructure and Jobs for Americans
Vice President Joe Biden: You need not stand for me. Thank you, thank you. Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. And we’re counting on you; we’re counting on all of you in a way I don’t think we’ve ever looked to the department before. We’re counting on you. It’s that simple, it’s that straightforward. And I want to thank all of you in the Department of Transportation for your dedication and for the long hours you help — you put in to make this announcement possible — but the long hours you’re going to be putting in.
Mr. President, when you signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, you made it absolutely clear that the American people could not wait — could not wait for us to get started, and that they had a duty — we had, you have — the Department of Transportation, all of the federal government — a duty and a responsibility to put to work the resources in the economic recovery package at a record speed and with record transparency.
Now, Mr. President, just two weeks after signing that legislation, we’re about to start the biggest investment on our nation’s road, bridges, highways and tunnels since we built the Interstate Highway System over 50 years ago. It’s a big deal. The work is beginning now, with hundreds more projects getting underway in the next few months. Some project will start this month, some won’t get going until the summer. We’re going to do everything we can to get them moving as quickly as possible. But Americans didn’t get in this mess overnight. And unfortunately, unfortunately, it’s going to take some time for us to get out of this.
Mr. President, you also made it clear that we have an obligation to the taxpayers of this nation to make sure their money is being used wisely, to make it accountable and transparent. Folks, we’re going to ask of you a sense of diligence and transparency and responsibility as has not been asked before, because we’ve never made this kind of investment before. This is a big deal. Never before in the history of this country have the people been more able to see with such complete transparency how we’re going to put their money to work, not just in this agency but particularly here.
Our web site, recovery.gov, is an unprecedented resource for the people to see how their money is being spent. And more than ever, more than ever, people can be our eyes and our ears. They can let us know what’s happening, and maybe, just as importantly, what isn’t happening in their communities.
I’ve always believed that the toughest moments present the biggest opportunities,