Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan
Fargo Transit Garage Groundbreaking Ceremony
Thank you Brian (Arett) for that kind introduction…
On behalf of President Obama and Secretary Ray LaHood, I’m delighted to be here today, along with Mayor Dennis Walaker, North Dakota DOT Director Francis Ziegler, and everyone else involved in this effort, to celebrate the opening of the new Fargo Transit Garage for Fargo Senior Services.
Your organization provides such an important service for senior citizens in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area. It operates as an alternative for those, who in the past, could only ride the more expensive paratransit service.
It's also an important part of the overall public transit system in this community.
The new $1.75 million Fargo transit facility will not only provide housing for up to 25 vehicles, but it will allow Fargo Senior Services to consolidate its vehicles into one facility from the three different garages currently used and will provide a central base of operations.
Although this facility was not built with Recovery Act funds, funding was made available for this project as a result of the Recovery Act.
The infusion of stimulus money allowed Fargo to fund bus replacement needs, and therefore, $1.4 million in FTA bus program funds could be used to fund the capital costs of this new facility.
All over the country we are seeing the Recovery Act bring much-needed funding and jobs to rural and urban communities.
Over the course of 18 months, the Department of Transportation is investing $48 billion in Recovery Act funds to rebuild roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, and seaports around the country. Out of that $48 billion, $8.4 billion is for transit funding -- almost doubling our FTA annual budget.
On September 1, we met and exceeded the goal set in law for us to obligate 50% of FTA Recovery Act funds to each of our formula grantees, including about $11 million each in Recovery Act funds for North Dakota and South Dakota. We have now obligated almost 90% of our ARRA funds to grantees.
This was quite a feat! The Recovery Act is essential to bringing our economy back -- but it’s also a dress rehearsal for an even more ambitious effort.
We at FTA want to ensure that transportation plays a major role in our ability to create the kinds of neighborhoods people want to live in; to reduce our dependence on private vehicles and foreign oil; promote a cleaner, greener environment; and ensure that rural communities have access to high-quality transportation.
To do so, we are working with Congress, our grantees, and our Federal partners to re-think our Federal spending priorities and focus on transportation investments that more effectively meet the needs and priorities of our nation’s communities.
One of these major priorities is the livability of your communities.
Livability in rural states such as North Dakota and South Dakota means:
•Elderly people can stay in their homes;
•Individuals with disabilities can hold a job;
•A parent can keep a job because he or she can trust the local transit service to safely transport his or her children;
•Low-income individuals don’t need to spend their limited resources on purchasing/maintaining a private vehicle;
•Seniors and other individuals without private transportation don’t have to live in isolation and suffer from nutrition issues;
•Young adults have access to affordable, safe and reliable transportation to high school and/or college;
•And much needed feeder service, which helps intercity bus providers maintain those critical routes, is provided.
The Fargo community has needed this transit facility for many years … and as the senior population and their demand for transit service continues to grow in the Fargo-Moorhead area… this facility will allow the further consolidation of services and aid in future service expansion.
Thank you to everyone who made this a possibility, and thank you for inviting me to celebrate in your achievement.
I know you all will keep up the good North and South Dakota, and I want to assure you that FTA will be supporting you along the way.
So, on behalf of the President and the Secretary, I want to thank everyone who made this project possible.