In the past 13 months, our recovering economy has created 1.8 million private sector jobs. But many Americans are still struggling to pay the bills, and rising gas prices are not helping. That's why the Obama Administration is making strategic investments to help Americans get where they need to go without mortgaging their families' future at the gas pump.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Central Corridor light rail will do exactly that. And yesterday Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff signed a grant agreement for $474 million to help fund this line, the state's largest-ever public works project.
The 11-mile Central Corridor will link the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, connecting the State Capitol with the University of Minnesota and the downtown Minneapolis business district along one of the region's most heavily traveled routes. It will offer Twin Cities commuters a convenient, affordable option for getting to work without pumping money into their gas tanks or tailpipe emissions into the air.
What I really admire about the Twin Cities community is that they didn't wait for this agreement before getting started. Backed by area businesses, the Metropolitan Council has already awarded contracts and completed more than an eighth of the project's construction.
More than 500 jobs have already been created, with more than 3,400 total jobs expected. And the economic development ripple effects will be felt in the many communities around the line's 18 stations. More jobs, less greenhouse gases, and reduced dependence on foreign oil--that's the kind of trifecta of benefits President Obama is investing in.
As Administrator Rogoff said, "Every time Minnesotans take light rail instead of driving, they will be keeping gas money in their own pockets. This project truly embodies the President's vision for winning the future through infrastructure investment."
That vision is bearing fruit in other communities as well. Last week, FTA Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan was in WiImington, North Carolina, to open Wave Transit’s new Forden station, a 9,000 square-foot, LEED Gold, indoor transfer facility expected to serve more than 1.5 million riders each year.
And in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Earth Day, Deputy Administrator McMillan awarded $39 million to help build the Worcester Regional Transit Authority's new state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly maintenance and operations center. WRTA’s fleet of 48 buses--including four clean diesel-electric hybrid buses--operates 23 fixed routes in Worcester and the surrounding communities. Last year, they served more than 3.2 million riders.
Now, when you add Wilmington and Worcester riders up, we're talking about nearly 5 million Americans a year who--thanks to this Administration's support--can count on public transit for a convenient and affordable option that helps them beat the pinch of today's gas prices.
And when Minnesota's Central Corridor is complete, we can add to that total 40,000 more riders every day. Multiply that by hundreds of transit agencies across the country, and it's plain to see why I am proud to serve in an Administration that is creating energy-saving, clean transportation alternatives for generations to come.