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The White House

Remarks by the Vice President on Investing in Transportation Infrastructure for the 21st Century Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release                                           March 5, 2009

Miami Intermodal Center
Miami, Florida
2:04 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and both the Mayors, and to Secretary LaHood.
Folks, as you can see, all of you local reporters already know, as those planes go over, we're across the street from the airport. This is -- this project is about the future. One of the things that we intended to do with the economic Recovery Act was not only to save jobs and spur growth, but to lay down a platform for the 21st century across the board. This is an example of that. So I compliment the county and the city for being ahead of the curve in understanding the needs for the 21st century.
When the President signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he made it clear that we had to move fast, and the American people couldn't wait for us to put these resources to work creating jobs and putting the economy back on track. Well, that's what we've done.
Already we have announced that most Americans will be getting a increase in their pay beginning on April 1st, because less withholding tax will be taken out of their paychecks. That means more money will be going into people's pockets. We've extended unemployment benefits, and we've made it clear and easier for people to keep their health care.
That's going to help people a lot in these tough times. And just two days ago, Secretary LaHood and I were with the President when he announced $28 billion in highway funding had been allocated to the states -- $28 billion in one fell swoop. That represents the biggest investment on our nation's infrastructure since President Dwight D. Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System. That investment -- that investment alone will create 150,000 new jobs by the end of this year -- good, decent-paying jobs, jobs you can raise a family on.
Today, the Department of Transportation is announcing another $8.4 billion in the Recovery Act's mass transit investment section -- $8.4 billion. This project, the Miami Intermodal Center, is a result of some of that investment. It's moving forward quickly, and we expect to help it continue to move. This project represents the kind of investment we're making not only for today, but as Mayor Diaz said, for the future.
Why are these kinds of transit centers the wave of the future? Well, as is stated, because they bring together every means of transportation to one central location –- transit buses, subways, commuter rail, intercity rail, airport shuttles, regional bus lines, intercity bus services, and intermodal transportation for pedestrians. That makes it possible for more people to get out of their cars and into public transit, from the beginning to the end of their trips. It has a number of ancillary benefits: It literally increases safety. It raises energy efficiency and it reduces pollution.
Take a look at how that's going to work here. In addition to having the Greyhound service, you'll also have the Miami Dade Metrorail. And you'll have Tri-Rail Commuter Rail. And you'll have extensive city bus service. And you'll have a people mover from Miami International Airport right to this center. And down the road, there are plans to have Amtrak run through this facility, as well. That's why, when it's all done, people believe this will be the "Grand Central Station" of South Florida.
Now. construction on this center is already underway -- and was already underway before the recovery package was passed. So what does this recovery money mean, since it's -- already begun? Well, it means it will get done faster, and it will get done. And getting it done soon is important, because when it's done, it's estimated that there will be 22,000 -- 22,000 -- permanent jobs to operate these facilities, and hundreds of thousands of passengers will pass through this new center every year.
The recovery package has also made it possible for Miami Dade to purchase six energy-efficient, hybrid-fuel buses. That's a step in the right direction of making more of the bus fleet energy efficient. Look at the stats: These new buses will save 25 percent on fuel costs and emit 50 percent less greenhouse gases. That means with just these six buses alone that the federal government and the act that it's funding today, will save over 15,000 gallons of gasoline a year. And that's with just six of these buses. And that number will only grow as more and more of the old buses are replaced with new buses, buses that run on green, hybrid technology.
What's happening here in Miami we need to have happen all over the United States of America. And it's beginning to happen. Resources are being put to work not only creating jobs now, but also investing in the future for long-term, good-paying jobs. The future that strengthens our transit system makes us much more energy efficient, increases safety, and again, provide long-term jobs that cannot be exported.
I've always believed, as the President does and, I suspect, all my colleagues behind me, the toughest times we face create the greatest and biggest opportunities. With this recovery package, we'll be creating jobs, saving jobs, and putting money in people's pockets.
And, ladies and gentlemen, it's important to know and remember that this recovery package provides for immediate help. It will save or create 3.5 million new jobs. Or to put it the other way, almost every serious economist, left, right and center, acknowledges were we not to make this kind of move, we would lose another 4 to 5 million jobs this year on top of the 3.5 million jobs we have lost since this recession began -- 600,000 last month, and I fear a similar number, when the stats are announced tomorrow, this month.
So, ladies and gentlemen, with these resources, we're not only rebuilding our roads and our bridges and our schools, but we'll be building new transit centers like this one. And that means we're not only rebuilding America, we're laying down a platform, a competitive platform for the 21st century.
I thank you all for being here. And I look forward to coming back when this is up and running and seeing it firsthand myself. Gentlemen, thank you very much. (Applause.)
2:12 P.M. EST