"You have never been more important than you are right now, and for that we are all grateful."
Those were President Obama's words 3 weeks ago to employees here at the Department of Transportation, and I can't second the emotion more enthusiastically.
While insiders pondered whether it was the 3rd, 4th, or 5th visit by a President to DOT, I can safely say that it was the first joint visit to DOT by a President and Vice President. I should point out, of course, that Mrs. Obama got the better of both gentlemen by visiting us a couple of weeks earlier, and her remarks were equally on point: “There isn’t a day that goes by that the work of the Department of Transportation doesn’t touch the lives of every single person in America.”
As you probably already know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) entrusts DOT with $48 billion in transportation funds. In my brief time here, I've learned that ARRA funds could not be in more capable, vigilant hands. The good people who staff America's Department of Transportation have been nothing but hardworking and engaged since my arrival in January. I can't tell you how impressed I am by their dedication. And, again, I urge all of you to be vigilant as well by visiting www.recovery.gov to monitor our work.
Thanks to all of the DOT folks who have been logging many extra hours ensuring that these funds are carefully and effectively dispersed. We have a lot to do in the next few weeks meeting the 120 days requirement; I know we're up to the task.