Last Thursday, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez went to Anaheim, California, to help reopen State Road 91, the largest Recovery Act transportation project in Orange County and the first to reach completion. The $65 million project relied on $47.9 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
It’s exciting that we're getting to the point when some of the projects supported by the Recovery Act are opening for business.
Since President Obama signed the Recovery Act almost two years ago, DOT has committed more than $27 billion to more than 13,000 bridge and highway projects across the country--$2.5 billion of which went to California.
Today, we're seeing just what those funds helped make possible in the Golden State and across America, and the work on SR 91 is a terrific example. The road was widened to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety; and not only was it finished both on time and on budget, but it also created jobs.
Renewed infrastructure that boosts capacity and safety at the same time, plus good jobs. That is what the Recovery Act is all about.
And that is why California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “We are constantly working to bring Recovery Act funding into California quickly and responsibly to help drive our economy."
SR 91 is the only freeway connecting Orange and Riverside Counties, serving an estimated 300,000 drivers who rely on the route every day. But that number is expected to climb to 425,000 during the next 20 years. It is also an economic lifeline because of its access to both California's Inland Empire and the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, America’s largest port operation.
By adding a lane to eastbound SR 91 and widening its existing two lanes and shoulders, the six miles between the SR 241 toll road in Orange County and the SR 71 in Riverside County will be safer due to improved traffic flow.
Orange County Transportation Authority Chairman Jerry Amante said, “Improving the 91 is a top priority for OCTA and we are very pleased to see the first of several projects on the freeway completed.”
In addition to boosting safety, this new section of SR 91 will save eastbound drivers an estimated 15 minutes per trip, giving commuters back more than an hour of their lives each week.
As Administrator Mendez said:
"The traffic tie-ups on this stretch are legendary. But we all want to spend more time with family and friends, and less time stuck in traffic. And that’s what this new section of State Road 91 will help people do."
I want to thank the crews and companies who delivered this gem on schedule and on budget. I want to thank our partners at Caltrans, the Orange County Transportation Authority, and the Riverside County Transportation Commission. And I want to thank Administrator Mendez for representing DOT at this important event.