Today we are celebrating a new start for travel, safety, commerce and economic development throughout our state, and I am honored to join with all of you at this celebration.

I want to thank all of our guests, including Boy Scout Troop #336 of Federal Way. I want to thank Vice President Bruce Johnson of the FAA for being here, along with Douglas Murphy of the FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region, and Paige Miller, the President of our Port Commission. I want to say a special word of thanks to Gina Marie Lindsey for her great leadership of Sea-Tac Airport.

We’ve worked closely together over the years, so I didn’t like hearing that she’s decided to move on to new opportunities this summer.

Gina Marie has really distinguished herself as one of the best airport directors in the entire nation. She has overseen a lot of change here at SEATAC and has laid the groundwork for even more changes to come. Gina Marie – I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for aviation in this region, and for everything you will do in the future for aviation in America.

Most importantly, I want to thank the people who this celebration is really about — the thousands of air traffic controllers and other FAA employees who keep our busy and complex aviation system the safest in the world.

I fly back and forth between Washington state and Washington, D.C. almost every week. I never forget as I travel that I’m relying on the wise judgment and steady hands of dozens of air traffic controllers who guide my flight from coast to coast. People who are so trained, so skilled, and so professional that not an even an earthquake can shake them from their commitment to the flying public.

We are all grateful for your dedication and expertise, and you deserve all the recognition we can offer.

Today, we have gathered to formally dedicate this new air traffic control tower, as well as the new TRACON. But today’s events are more than just the opening of two new facilities. Today we are celebrating another milestone in our successful effort to restore aviation in our region. Together we are here to make a statement that the Puget Sound area and Washington State are ready, willing, and able to grow.

Throughout my public career, I’ve always been proud to represent a state that has aviation at the center of its economy. It’s the pride of representing tens of thousands employees of the Boeing Company who – in the face of aggressive efforts by the Europeans -- continue to manufacture the best, most modern aircraft in the world.

When it comes to aviation, we are turning a corner here in Puget Sound.

With the announcement of the new orders for the Boeing 7E7, we are telling the world that Puget Sound is back and ready to do business. And – with recent court victories -- we will continue that progress by building a third runway here at Sea-Tac.

We are making a statement that we are ready to prosper again and put people back to work. We are ready to be a world trading center for decades to come.

Ever since I arrived in the Senate I’ve been working on the aviation issues that matter to Washington families.

Just for the two new facilities that we celebrate today, I have secured more than $75 million in my role on the Senate Appropriations Committee and as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. I’ve also secured federal commitments of almost $160 million from the Transportation Security Administration to create an effective security system at Sea-Tac that will -- over time -- move both people and baggage more rapidly.

For the third runway, I’ve obtained federal commitments of over $216 million. But we are not stopping there. Today, we are looking for more money to build the third runway in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

The FAA considers the construction of the third runway as one of the most critical improvements needed for aviation capacity in America. The increased costs don’t change the fact that we need to build a third runway so we can have efficient air operations under all weather conditions with the kind of flight frequencies that we will need to prosper in the future. Obtaining additional federal support for the third runway is also important so that this airport does not become one of the most expensive in the country to operate out of.

Maintaining a business-friendly environment means making the necessary public investments so that businesses want to move here and stay here.

I have spoken about the need for additional funds to cover some of the cost growth of the third runway project with President Bush’s Transportation Secretary, Norm Mineta. I’ve spoken with Secretary Mineta on the record at hearings and in the privacy of my office. I’ve also raised the issue with President Bush’s FAA Administrator, Marion Blakey. I have talked to her on the record in hearings as well as in my office.

We need the Bush Administration to come through with an additional financial commitment to the third runway project, and we hope that will come soon.

The ball is in their court.

They need to recognize, as I do, that an important way we maintain a business-friendly environment in Washington State is to keep the landing fees at this airport affordable. So, Mr. Johnson of the FAA, I truly thank you for being here and seeing how important Sea-Tac is to our region and to our economy.

I hope you will carry my message back to Administrator Blakey and Secretary Mineta.

Please tell them that the investments we make in these facilities are paying off. The people of the Pacific Northwest are ready, willing and able to prosper, and that we need the Administration’s help to maintain our leadership in aviation.

Thank you everyone, for coming today.

I hope you will join me in cutting the ribbon to formally dedicate this top-notch facility.