Public Papers

Remarks on Signing the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991


Thank you all very, very much. Arnold, thank you. You did just great. Thank you all. Please be seated, and thank you so much. Angela Dominguez, over here, thank you so much for being with us. And Dr. Friend, thank you, sir, for your remarks, especially the kind reference to my dad. I know how deeply he believed in one of Eisenhower's greatest legacies, that Interstate Highway System.

To Acting Secretary of Transportation Busey and, of course, I would like to single out my new Chief of Staff Sam Skinner, who deserves great credit for what we're about to sign here today. He's with us.

Let me single out the Members of Congress, the ones sitting on the dais here. This bill required some very heavy lifting. And I'm particularly grateful to all those Members that are here today, but let me just particularly welcome Senator Moynihan; Senator Reid; Senator Lloyd Bentsen, our own Senator from Texas; Congressman Bud Shuster; Chairman Roe, from the House side who did such a superb job on this; Norm Mineta, another Member of Congress; and then my old friend and colleague, Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt from Arkansas.

But there are many more Members here today. And the point I want to make is this wasn't a Republican effort, a Democrat effort, a liberal or conservative. It was bipartisan, and it was all-American. And I think it's going to be a great thing for this country.

I also want to salute Steve Bartlett, a former Member of Congress who has long been interested in this, the new Mayor of Dallas. We have other leaders here from Fort Worth as well. I'm told that Charlotte Mays, the newly elected city councilwoman from Dallas, came over with us. But in any event, we have a great turnout of local and State officials which I think bodes well or speaks well of the kind of legislation we have.

We also have with us the Federal Highway Administrator Tom Larson; Urban Mass Transit Administrator Brian Clymer; the Federal Railroad Administrator Gil Carmichael. Arnold Oliver is the executive director of the Texas DOT. James Morris, chairman of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is here, and that's important. Other representatives of MADD are with us here today.

Honored guests and fellow Texans and fellow Americans, welcome to all of you, particularly those working in this construction project.

That great observer of democracy, de Tocqueville, once called America ``a land of wonders in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement.'' Well, today we celebrate an improvement that can keep America in motion: The most important transportation bill, as Dr. Friend said, since President Eisenhower started the Interstate System 35 years ago.

This bill will launch the postinterstate era of America's surface transportation system. It will enable us to build and repair roads, fix bridges, and improve mass transit; keeps Americans on the move, and help the economy in the process. But really, it is summed up by three words: jobs, jobs, jobs. And that's the priority.

Yes, these are tough times, and yes, there are layoffs. And many families are having a rough go of it. And the American people want action. And action is what they'll get. And I want every American to know that getting the economy back on track is my number one priority, and I expect I speak for the Members of Congress here from both sides of the aisle. It is their number one priority as well.

Today we're taking action: billion pumped into the economy, supporting 600,000 jobs. Tomorrow I'll meet with the trade mission that I'm leading to Japan to help open the giant markets there to more American exports. And that means the same three words: jobs and jobs and jobs.

We Americans are inspired by the idea that tomorrow can be better than today. And shortly I will sign a bill that puts that idea into action. It's full name is the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. And that's shorthand for progress. Progress for our infrastructure, for the economy, and I'm proud to stand here and say this bill is progress for working Americans all across this great country.

This act will pump billion into the economy immediately, supporting more than 600,000 jobs in fiscal 1992; in Texas alone, more than 41,000 jobs. Many of those workers will develop sites like these, demonstrating the combination of transportation planning, high-tech, and teamwork that America needs to prevail in the world marketplace.

Today's event confirms that America will prevail. As a result of this bill, on this site alone, it means 150 jobs and million in spending. And the benefits won't stop at this site. Not far from here, over in Plano, Texas, a company called Luminator Mark Four makes products for mass transit systems. I understand that Luminator hopes to use funds provided by this act to expand its work force by 35 percent. That would be another 150 jobs, jobs right here in our State of Texas.

Across America, the transportation act will help companies put people back to work. And it's in addition to the Government programs I've ordered speeded up, putting a .7 billion extra into the economy during the first two quarters of the fiscal year.

And this bill also means investment in America's economic future, for an efficient transportation system is absolutely essential for a productive and efficient economy. Give Americans the tools to compete, and I'm confident that we can outthink, outperform, outproduce anybody, anywhere.

Our bill gives the private sector new incentives to support our road system. For instance, this land has been donated by local business, and I'm especially proud that Congress accepted our proposal to help private firms build and operate new private toll roads. Private toll roads can pay their way, creating higher State and local revenues, better services, more investment, and once again, more jobs.

Here's another part of the bill I like: It authorizes a new incentive program to improve occupant safety and to prevent drunk driving. Especially in the holiday season, it just breaks my heart to see needless tragedy on our Nation's roads. It's time we got the drunk drivers off the roads once and for all. And I know the people of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, agree with that. And on behalf of a grateful Nation, this is a good time to thank them for what they're doing for everybody all across this country.

As much as anything, by improving our transportation system, today's signing will helpÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E Americaÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E competeÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E inÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E theÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E globalÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E marketplace.ÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E Whenÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E weÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E moveÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E America,ÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E Americaÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E movesÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E theÿ7Eÿ7Eÿ7E world.

And it doesn't require genius to know that in an international marketplace, a nation moves no more rapidly than its infrastructure permits. And yet, too often, goods are held up or workers are late to their jobs because our surface transportation system simply isn't up to the job. I'm glad to say this bill is going to start changing that.

Each year, 8 billion hours, it's estimated, are wasted in traffic delays. This act, in combination with State and local efforts, will help curb congestion through projects that link highways like SH 360 and mass transit like the light rail and high-speed systems between Dallas, Fort Worth, and the DFWÿ7Eÿ7E Airport.ÿ7Eÿ7E Weÿ7Eÿ7E haveÿ7Eÿ7E toÿ7Eÿ7E helpÿ7Eÿ7E theÿ7Eÿ7E employeeÿ7Eÿ7E who'sÿ7Eÿ7E stuckÿ7Eÿ7E inÿ7Eÿ7E trafficÿ7Eÿ7E soÿ7Eÿ7E thatÿ7Eÿ7E heÿ7Eÿ7E orÿ7Eÿ7E sheÿ7Eÿ7E canÿ7Eÿ7E getÿ7Eÿ7E toÿ7Eÿ7E workÿ7Eÿ7E andÿ7Eÿ7E helpÿ7Eÿ7E theÿ7Eÿ7E economy.ÿ7Eÿ7E Andÿ7Eÿ7E theÿ7Eÿ7E placeÿ7Eÿ7E toÿ7Eÿ7E startÿ7Eÿ7E thatÿ7Eÿ7E oneÿ7Eÿ7E isÿ7Eÿ7E rightÿ7Eÿ7E here.ÿ7Eÿ7E Theÿ7Eÿ7E timeÿ7Eÿ7E toÿ7Eÿ7E begin,ÿ7Eÿ7E rightÿ7Eÿ7E now.

All of us know the state of some of our highways. And I'm reminded of them when I read the Isaiah verse of the admonition that ``The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.'' I'm not sure Isaiah had that in mind, thinking about the shape of our Interstate System. But nevertheless, this transportation act will smooth out and streamline our Nation's highways. And it will enhance our transportation efficiency by investing in our 155,000-mile National Highway System.

I'm pleased that the increased funding will improve road conditions, ease traffic congestion, and reduce delays for the trucking industry, thus letting them move those consumer goods more quickly and at lower cost, and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. The new National System will represent only 4 percent of all public roads but will carry 75 percent of intercity truck traffic and 40 percent of all travel. This system will increase access to American products and services and then, ultimately, prosperity. And that's good for Dallas, good for Texas, good for Fort Worth, good for Tarrant County, good for Dallas, good for America, and I'm proud, very proud, that the bill will make that happen.

Transportation is an 0-billion-a-year business. And as the world trade grows larger, and as our planet, because of communications, becomes smaller, an efficient transportation system will become even more important than it is today.

So, I want to congratulate Secretary Skinner. I want to single out and congratulate all of the congressional leaders who got the job done on this legislation. And to the rest of you here, our many partners in this process, my appreciation for the tireless effort, the long hours and determination that all of you invested in supporting this forward-looking legislation.

I also want to thank the State highway and transportation administrators, indeed, every American. You knew that transportation can help keep America ``a land of wonders,'' and you made your voices heard.

The future of American transportation begins today. And so when we look back years from now to this landmark day for America's transportation, we'll be able to say, ``Mission defined. Mission accomplished.''

So to all of you, may God bless you at this very special time of year. And now let me sign this bill so we can get some projects under way and get people back to work.

And thank you for being with us, all of you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:07 a.m. at a construction site on State Highway 360 in Euless, TX. In his remarks, he referred to Arnold W. Oliver, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation; Angela Dominguez of the Austin Bridge Construction Company; and Dr. Theodore W. Friend III, president of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Inc. H.R. 2950, approved December 18, was assigned Public Law No. 102 - 240.