Last night, in his State of the Union address, President Obama said, "We are poised for progress." The President offered five ways to achieve that progress--innovation, education, rebuilding, reform, and responsibility. He also declared that we will measure that progress, "by the success of our people," "by the jobs they can find," and "by the opportunities for a better life we pass on to our children."
"That," he said, "is the project the American people want us to work on."
Today, I am here to say that the Department of Transportation will do whatever we can to help this nation win the future the President described.
And, while DOT has much to contribute in terms of education, reform, and responsibility, our experience indicates we are particularly prepared for innovation and infrastructure.
About this nation, the President said, "We do big things." And nowhere is that more true than at the Department of Transportation. The new Hoover Dam Bridge, for example, demonstrates how DOT supports innovation to solve America's complex challenges.
So when the President says, "To win the future, we will have to take on challenges that have been decades in the making," we at DOT stand absolutely ready to do more big things.
That's why I was pleased to hear him reassert his bold vision for an innovative American passenger rail network:
"Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway."
At DOT we have been working hard to help do just that. And the projects we are supporting to rebuild America's transportation infrastructure are creating good jobs for American workers.
So I appreciate the confidence the President expressed in this Department when he said:
"Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.
Now, the President did say, "We must do better," and I couldn't agree more.
But he and I also know that, "We can do better."
After all, "We are," as President Obama said, "the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers."
The DOT is ready. America is ready.
Let's get behind innovation to move our nation ahead. Let's build tomorrow's infrastructure today. Let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.
We've got a future to win; let's get started.
Watch a replay of The State of the Union 2011: Winning the Future