Public Papers

Remarks to Green Line/Interstate-105 Project Construction Site Employees in Los Angeles, California


Thank you very much. Governor Wilson, thank you for that introduction. And may I pay my respects to Secretary Skinner and Senator Seymour with us here, Mayor Bradley, also two other Members of the United States Congress over here, Glenn Anderson, Dana Rohrabacher, well-known to everybody around these parts. I salute them. And to the California State secretary for transportation and housing Carl Covitz, who was explaining much of this to me today. My sincere thanks to Jerry Baxter, to Neil Peterson, and to all of you guys that helped me eat my lunch out there, whoever you are, and who are doing the work on this project. It's a pleasure to be here.

We've got some great humorists at the White House. One of my aides, when I told him we had been invited to visit the transportation project, he said, ``Well, would you like to have a moving experience?'' And I am moved to be here. And I'm very grateful for this reception, the conversation I had with he people doing the work, and especially grateful that all of you are here.

I suspect the traffic jam that Los Angeles is most concerned about breaking up these days is the one that is at the top of the National League West. And I wish I were going to get to go see the ball game tonight, but unfortunately, I am not.

And I'm here today, though, to congratulate Los Angeles and California for their leadership, its national leadership. You're setting an example for the whole country in advancing a project which symbolizes the kind of transportation planning, high tech, and teamwork that America needs to compete in the world marketplace.

This project will improve the movement of people and goods not just within this great city but between modes of transportation: rail, car, bus, and air transportation. With links to both Los Angeles International Airport and Southern California's port facilities, Interstate 105 and the Green Line will help speed goods to markets throughout the global economy.

Interstate 105 dramatizes the Federal, State, and local partnership at its best, showing that together, we Americans can do anything.

The Federal role is focused on construction of the interstate, including HOV lines. State and local governments have joined to help commuters move more efficiently and to unclog Los Angeles area roads and highways. And I salute California and the Los Angeles area for their commitment of over billion, including local funding for the total price tag for the new Green Line.

This project embodies America's need for greater infrastructure investment at every level. It shows why, when we unveiled our transportation plan more than 7 months ago, we proposed at the Federal level investing 39 percent more in highway funding, primarily by focusing Federal investment on roads of national importance, the 150,000-mile national highway system.

The state of some of our highways was reflected in an updated version of an old song that some cynic sang to me the other day, ``You take the high road, and I'll take the low road, and I'll hit a pothole before you.''

Well, we've got to change that. And our transportation plan will, indeed, help improve America's roads. Look at this one, look at Interstate 105, a crucial link in our new highway system. Especially with the Green Line using its median strip, it will prove how investment in high tech can ease local congestion and other problems as well.

The Green Line will be a state-of-the-art, fully automated system, one of only four such systems in the world. I - 105 makes special accommodations for high-occupancy vehicles, which encourages carpooling by commuters. All over America, including California, we are seeing ``smart car, smart highways'' programs which help drivers move more safely and more freely.

And there are other innovations in our transportation plan, including more flexibility for State and local transportation officials on how Federal dollars are spent, more capital investment for transit, and incentives for greater use of private funds to support our road system.

But we still face one big hurdle that needs to be cleared, and I'm talking about congressional inaction today. Last March I challenged the Congress to pass our bill in 100 days. And it's now 197 days and counting. Let me tell you what we want and what we don't want. We want a bill that works. We don't want a bill that paves America with special projects, with pork. We want a transportation system that spends our money effectively, one that truly addresses national needs. And we don't want one that simply furthers political careers by spending money on hundreds of special interest projects. We want a good transportation bill, and I am going to do all I can to keep the heat on to get such a bill.

Many special interest projects often are not even on the local and State priority list. But I - 105 and the Green Line are certainly projects that argue the other way. They are projects where there's a need, projects that people want. And they are examples of how transportation infrastructure can make us much more competitive in the global economy. They also demonstrate how State and local governments can take a lead role in financing and managing of important transportation projects and, in the process, get fantastic results. And they show California is leading the way toward a brighter tomorrow.

The novelist John Steinbeck once wrote, ``The spring is beautiful in California.'' Well, I'd like to add, so is September. And thank you for a great day. Thank you for this fantastic contribution to the infrastructure of our great country. And may God bless you and our wonderful country.

Note: The President spoke at 1:21 p.m. at the site. In his remarks, he referred to Governor Pete Wilson of California; Secretary of Transportation Samuel K. Skinner; Senator John Seymour; Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles; Representatives Glenn M. Anderson and Dana Rohrabacher; Carl Covitz, California secretary of business, transportation, and housing; Jerry Baxter, director of California Transportation District; Neil Peterson, executive director of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission. Prior to his remarks, the President had lunch with the construction site employees and attended a briefing and tour of the project. A tape was not available for verification of the content at these remarks.