Thank you, Ron. Ron is a great leader, who’s showed guts and determination. He didn’t choose the easy path. Instead he stuck it out and saw it through. So thanks, Ron.
I'd also like to thank – Joni Earl and her staff. Without your professionalism and integrity we would not be standing here today. And I want to thank FTA Administrator Jenna Dorn, Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, and the Bush Administration for their support of this project.
The Bush Administration and I have had our differences over the years, but even in the face of opposition from their own party, they stood firm and stood by the people of Puget Sound to do the right thing. From the beginning of their tenure, Secretary Mineta and Administrator Dorn were personally engaged in this project. Their involvement made the project better, and their commitment is going to help make it happen.
Jenna, thank you for your fortitude, your professionalism, and your vision. You’ve kept your word, and you were always a straight shooter.
Today I want to congratulate all the people at Sound Transit for their hard work in fulfilling the mandate that voters gave them when they approved the Sound Move Plan.
The voters here said they wanted a transit system that didn’t just consist of isolated pieces. They wanted buses, they wanted rail, and they wanted them connected to each other.
Well, we’re finally here to present a check for the first installment of the fully approved Full Funding Grant Agreement for this project. This $43 million is part of the $75 million that I secured for this year as Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee.
It’s been a long time coming, but those of us who have fought for this project know that there have been times when it seemed like our dream of a first-class transit system for Puget Sound might never be a reality. But, together, we did it – and this check is proof that a better transit system is on its way.
Today, I’d like to give everyone here a sense of why this project is important for our region, and why it was so important that we stand up for it.
You see, everyone who has helped us get here today shares a vision. We've thought about what kind of future we want for our region, and we haven't been afraid to think and dream big.
When we look at Puget Sound, we see great possibilities for the future. We see a region where economic growth and prosperity are fueled by the hard work and ingenuity of its people.
We see a region where that growth is also based on smart investments in transportation and infrastructure. We see a region where people's safety, efficiency, and mobility are high priorities. And we see a region where our transit system reflects and promotes our deep respect for the outdoors by reducing future congestion and using environmentally friendly technology.
This first phase of Light Link Rail in Puget Sound is just the right place to begin.
One of the things I love most about this project is that Sound Transit is going the extra mile to make sure that each and every station is an important part of the community it serves.
They’re working with neighborhoods, artists, and cities to ensure that the light rail system and stations are unique assets to these communities, to the system, and to the entire Puget Sound region. This is just the kind of community-oriented thinking – and community-oriented growth – we need.
Our region has been through some tough times and now we’re starting to see daylight at the end of the tunnel.
When I travel around and talk to people, I get a real sense of energy and excitement. There’s a feeling in Puget Sound that if we make the right decisions, and if we make the right investments,
great things will happen for us. I know that there’s absolutely no reason we can’t be a model of prosperity and mobility for the rest of the nation – and the world.
By investing in transportation and infrastructure, we’re creating economic growth for years to come. In fact, this first-phase project alone will create more than 4200 good, family-wage jobs. These are 4200 families who will have greater buying power. These are 4200 families whose demand for goods and services will increase. These are 4200 families who will stimulate local and regional economies and contribute to the prosperity of our state. But these investments don’t only put people to work – they get people to work – safely and comfortably.
This boosts our efficiency and contributes to our quality of life – both by allowing us to spend less time in traffic and by reducing our impact on the environment. These are great things for Puget Sound – now and in the future. That’s why I – and everyone here – feel so strongly about this project.
And let me tell you, we'd have to feel strongly about something to have fought so hard to make it happen. But you know what? With the help of people like Administrator Dorn, we persevered.
And now we’re acquiring the needed right-of-way,
breaking ground on important projects, and we’re even planning for future segments of light rail.
The more than $43 million being presented today puts us well on the way to making our vision of a strong, prosperous Puget Sound a reality. It will help us invest in good jobs and safe, clean, efficient transportation for all the people in our region.
I’m so proud that – working together – we’ve been able to get the federal government to commit to funding this project. But, as I’ve said, this first phase is truly only the beginning. We’re going to keep looking at our needs to see what future projects will keep our economy growing and our people productive.
I’m looking forward to a Puget Sound that’s as strong and competitive as it is beautiful, and I want to assure you that I’ll continue to support these kinds of projects in the United States Senate.
Once again, congratulations.