Yesterday, I had the pleasure of dedicating the Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, part of the Hoover Dam Bypass project. Now, I've visited a lot of projects and attended a lot of ceremonies during the past 20 months, and I can safely say, This bridge is something.
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and I were accompanied by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, US Senator Harry Reid, US Representative Dina Titus, many of the bridge's construction workers, and the families of the two American heroes for which the bridge is named.
This majestic bridge is the longest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. It rests on the tallest precast concrete columns ever constructed. And it reaffirms a powerful idea: Americans can still build great things not just in spite of enormous economic challenge, but as the means of overcoming it.
As Patrick Tillman, Pat's father, said, "It is an impressive piece of work."
That, of course, is something of an understatement. After all, we're talking about a 1,900-foot bridge whose central arch reaches more than 1,000 feet--a bridge standing nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River and composed of 16 million pounds of steel, 30,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 2 million feet of cable.
But, beyond the materials, I am overwhelmed by the human achievement the bridge embodies--engineers, crane operators, and concrete workers. Like the Hoover Dam, 1,500 feet upriver from the new bridge, this marvel is a monument to America's can-do spirit.
In solving the problems of the clogged Hoover Dam crossing, we have demonstrated once again our ability to tackle a complex challenge with American ingenuity and dedication. We can still dream big. We can roll up our sleeves and make this nation's infrastructure the envy of the world once again.
And, just as the renewal of our infrastructure through Recovery Act projects was step one in that critical process, President Obama is committed to doing even more with the $50 billion initiative he announced on Labor Day and reaffirmed last Monday.
That landmark investment will rebuild 150,000 miles of roadway, lay or upgrade 4,000 miles of rail, and restore 150 miles of runway. And it will create the jobs we know America needs.
Look, the Hoover Dam was itself an engineering and construction wonder. But the new bridge reminds us that our nation cannot live off yesterday's investments. It reminds us that a 21st century economy requires 21st century infrastructure.
And it reminds us that daring projects don't just solve today's problems; they create tomorrow's possibilities.