Making roadways safer for drivers and pedestrians is a critical part of making a community more livable. And, when improving safety also makes it easier for people to shop at local stores and access local businesses, the benefits start multiplying: jobs, economic development, community vitality, and more.
We call it, "Safety Plus," and that's what the recently completed work on the southeast end of America's Main Street--Pennsylvania Avenue here in Washington, DC--is all about. As Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said, "Safe and reliable roads and sidewalks are key to supporting commerce and the people who live in the community."
Last week, Administrator Mendez and DC Mayor Vincent Gray cut the ribbon on the improved Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and the atmosphere was truly celebratory.
This section of Pennsylvania Avenue is home to historic neighborhoods, deep-rooted communities, and commercial centers with local businesses. The project, supported by the FHWA with $19.5 million in Recovery Act funding, reconstructed nearly two miles of Pennsylvania Avenue from 27th Street SE, to Southern Avenue, the DC/Maryland boundary. New sidewalks on both sides of the avenue boost pedestrian safety, and new street lighting improves visibility for motorists. Additional upgrades include landscaped medians that provide better traffic management and offer pedestrians a safer refuge to stand in when crossing this active avenue.
It's no wonder that community leaders are so excited about the renewed Pennsylvania Avenue.
This terrific initiative is another example of how transportation helps the economy and creates jobs even as it makes our lives easier. The budget President Obama recently proposed will fund critical transportation improvements like this while creating jobs and fostering economic development.
The President's plan would invest more than $300 billion in our nation's roadways, a 34 percent increase over current road funding. This investment would improve our nation's roads, increase safety, and continue fueling a recovery that has led to 24 straight months of job growth in America--and the third straight month where our economy has added more than 200,000 jobs.
To create an America that's built to last, we need a thriving network of roadways that can get people where they need to go and get goods to market. And we also need strong neighborhoods like Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast DC, where people can walk or drive safely and where businesses can thrive.
At DOT, we're happy to support a project that can put men and women to work achieving all of these goals.