Secretary Anthony Foxx
I-635 LBJ Freeway Proposed Project
Garland, Texas • April 18, 2014
Thank you to TxDOT commissioner, Jeff Austin – and to John Barton and Garland Mayor Doug Athas for giving me a big Texas welcome.
It’s great to be in Garland, and in the Centerville Marketplace. Because you always want to begin these speeches with a good story – and this place has a good story.
Some of you might know this: But I’m told that, eight years ago, TxDOT announced that they were building frontage to connect this area with the highway. They said they’d put $10 million into the project – which as far as roads go, isn’t a lot.
It wasn’t a lot – but it sure was enough to make something happen.
Texas is probably the only place left in the country that still knows something about spurs. And that’s what this road did – it spurred growth. It created what people in Garland are calling, “the commerce of transportation.”
From that 10 million, more than $25 million poured in to redevelop this marketplace. Millions for new businesses, which created new jobs. Hundreds of them are supported by that investment. And even more investment is expected.
Now, remember: All that happened just because you announced a road.
So, imagine what would happen if we didn’t just announce a road here. Imagine if we actually built a whole stretch of highway.
Imagine we actually built the LBJ East project you’ve planned.
Imagine the impact of not just a $10-million-dollar project – but a $1.5-billion-dollar project.
Imagine the jobs it would create. Imagine the businesses it would draw.
Well, I know many of you have. And being here today, I have, too. I’ve seen how necessary – how life-lifting – an improved route of transportation could be in an area like this, one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.
But I’m also here to tell you that, right now, the planned LBJ East project can’t be more than that – just plans. Drawings on a map.
The truth is: unless we do something to change the way we pay for transportation projects in this country, the money just isn’t there.
In Congress, despite the fact that almost everyone agrees we need to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure like this highway, there are people who say Washington is too broken to make it happen. Or they say, we can’t tackle an issue like this in an election year.
And then, some people kick the can down the road because they can’t agree on how to pay for projects like these.
Twenty-seven times over the past five years, Congress has chosen to slap a band aid on this country’s transportation system – funding it in fits and starts.
And now Congress has to make a decision again. Because as early as August, the fund that pays for rebuilding and repairing this country’s roads and bridges will essentially run dry.
This is pretty bad news when you consider that well over a third of all the roads in Texas are already in “poor or mediocre condition.” (Everything is bigger in Texas, and so are the potholes).
And because bad roads mean more traffic jams and more wear-and-tear on cars, they’re costing every driver in this state $343 dollars every year.
In other words, when Congress doesn’t decide who should pay for transportation… the person who pays for it is you.
This is why we’re out in America – because the American people have an opportunity to make Congress understand why all of this is so crucial.
Soon, the President and I will send a bill to Congress allow us to tackle projects like LBJ Freeway.
It won’t just refill the Highway Trust Fund, it will change the way we approach transportation – making it more efficient and innovative, so we can meet the country’s future needs without adding to the budget deficit.
But, none of it will happen without the help of people in communities like Garland.
This is the last day of our bus tour – and our second-to-last stop. But that does not mean the argument for rebuilding America’s transportation system ends here.
Over the last five days, we’ve been telling the American people to speak up. And everyone I’ve asked said they: That they’ll tell Congress we can’t put another Band-Air on America’s infrastructure.
That they’ll tell them what investment can do here in this community – and all across the country.
# # #