Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Saying that businesses must be able to move goods to customers swiftly and efficiently to succeed, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters today announced a series of measures designed to help Michigan take advantage of over $400 billion in private infrastructure funds available worldwide for investments in transportation projects. The new measures, which include technical assistance for state and local officials, and expediting federal reviews, are designed to allow Michigan to take advantage of private sector funds once the State Legislature authorizes their use.
"It's time to take the brakes off this state's engine of growth and give businesses the transportation network they need to compete and succeed in today's global economy," Secretary Peters said. "Faster roads, more reliable deliveries and cheaper shipping can and will make a difference."
Before making her announcement, Secretary Peters visited a local steel distributor in Jackson, Michigan to see how plans to repair and widen nearby I-94 would help companies like it grow and thrive. After the visit, the Secretary announced she was making the Department's innovative finance team available to help local community and state officials take advantage of creative and proven approaches to funding highway and other needed transportation projects.
The Secretary also announced that the Department would provide expedited reviews for any proposal from Michigan to widen I-94 that the finance team helps develop. She said the Department would do this "because fresh innovation in Michigan shouldn't be met with stale red tape in Washington."
Private sector investments are needed in Michigan because too many people in Washington prefer to spend transportation dollars on fixing lighthouses and building museums, instead of repairing roads and widening highways, Secretary Peters said. She noted that even though the federal government is spending record levels on transportation, special interest spending has left local and state officials with too little flexibility to invest those funds where they are most likely to help commuters, shippers and local communities.
"Businesses don't need a bridge to nowhere when local roads can't get them anywhere else on time," she added.
Secretary Peters noted she was working with members of Michigan's congressional delegation, including Congressman Tim Walberg, who joined her for the morning tour, to improve the federal transportation program when it is renewed next year. However, she warned that "businesses in places like Jackson shouldn't have to wait for Washington to get things right."
"Whether creating assembly lines, perfecting modern manufacturing or developing sophisticated supply chain networks, Michigan has long led the way," said Secretary Peters. "Today it has a chance to lead again when it comes to attracting the capital needed to give this state a new edge over its competitors."