Since becoming the Secretary of Transportation, I've spent a lot of time on the road. But, if there's one person at DOT who's racked up just as many frequent flyer miles as I have, it's Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez.
On the heels of his trip to Atlanta to check on progress at the Mitchell Street Bridge, Administrator Mendez visited two projects on opposite coasts this week that are proof positive of the difference the Recovery Act is making in communities across America.
On Tuesday, Administrator Mendez dropped by a truly remarkable project site right here in Washington, D.C. The Eastern Avenue Bridge, which carries traffic over Kenilworth Avenue (DC-295), is being rebuilt using prefabricated bridge decks and piers that are engineered off-site and assembled together on location - similar to building blocks. The use of this technology ensures that driver disruptions in the District are kept to a minimum. And best of all, it has decreased overall construction time from two years to less than one.
The benefits of this project for local D.C. residents can't be underestimated. When the new bridge is completed in October, it will improve access between neighborhoods and provide a safer route for getting around. And drivers won't be the only ones celebrating: the bridge design comes with better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and incorporates new green space that everyone can enjoy.
This project was made possible by $9.6 million in Recovery Act money and a $1 million FHWA grant that awards innovative approaches that reduce congestion and improve safety during construction. Known as "Highways for LIFE," the program encourages states to build roads faster while making them last longer and less costly to maintain.
A few hours after his visit in D.C., Administrator Mendez hopped a flight to San Francisco to witness the start of major construction at one of the largest Recovery Act undertakings in the country: the Doyle Drive Replacement Project.
As the city's primary access route from the Golden Gate Bridge, Doyle Drive is a critical connection between San Francisco and counties to both the north and south. But, for more than half a century, replacing Doyle Drive has been a priority for state, local, and federal officials. You see, the current structure is at risk for sustaining damage if an earthquake was to hit, and the closure of this route would have devastating economic consequences for local communities.
However, the new six-lane construction will make structural and seismic improvements that will reduce the risk of an earthquake cutting off this key commercial artery in the Bay Area. And, because of $128 million in Recovery Act money (including a $46 million TIGER grant), this important project was able to begin a year earlier than originally planned. That's no small distinction when people's safety and security are at stake.
These are just two of the more than 11,000 Recovery Act projects underway across the country this summer. At FHWA alone, we're funding improvements to over 30,000 miles of roadway. That's enough to drive between the Eastern Avenue Bridge in D.C. and Doyle Drive in San Francisco more than 10 times! There's no doubt about it: the Recovery Act is helping to rebuild America from coast to coast.