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DOT Backs Island Infrastructure Plans

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

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Federal transportation officials are committed to supporting and improving infrastructure projects in Puerto Rico.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Puerto Rico Governor García Padilla have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that aims to reduce the commonwealth’s project delivery time, restructure the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Administration with the Federal Highway Administration’s support, and improve Puerto Rico’s ability to use federal funds in future highway projects, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday (Feb. 25).

“This agreement allows officials to continue making critical investments that will ensure Puerto Rico’s infrastructure maintains a high level of safety and efficiency,” Foxx said. 

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© iStock.com / FGillot

This agreement "is a step in the right direction toward more road improvements, better financial management, job creation, and safer driving on the island for years to come,” according to FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau.

“Our Department and this Administration are committed to keeping the wheels of progress moving forward on the island and we are dedicated to helping advance projects that will create jobs and contribute significantly to the recovery of Puerto Rico’s economy,” he added.

Foxx and Padilla were joined by FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau and Puerto Rico Secretary of Transportation and Public Works Miguel Torres Díaz in what was described as a “historic” occasion.

“This MOU is a step in the right direction toward more road improvements, better financial management, job creation, and safer driving on the island for years to come,” Nadeau stated.

Improving Efficiency, Best Practices, Infrastructure

According to the DOT, the MOU provides federal technical assistance to ensure that Puerto Rican transportation officials are able to quickly and efficiently access about $400 million in previously obligated federal funds for infrastructure projects. 

The agreement also represents an important step in Puerto Rico’s plan to improve its billing procedures by increasing capacity for developing and sustaining best practices, such as using electronic funds transfer and reducing the time it takes to pay contractors, the agency noted.

“While we continue to work tirelessly in seeking a comprehensive legal framework to restructure Puerto Rico’s unsustainable debt,” Padilla noted, “this agreement helps us improve the operations of a vital public corporation and fosters considerable investment in the Commonwealth to help Puerto Rico leave behind its financial and liquidity crisis.”

He added that the DOT’s commitment to the commonwealth “has been invaluable in my administration's efforts to ensure that the 3.5 million American citizens living in Puerto Rico have access to modern and reliable transportation.”

Once signed, the document will require the territory to hire a management consultant to assist with streamlining project delivery, bolstering construction management and improving engineers’ estimates—which are key to ensuring that bid prices for federal-aid road projects are reasonable, the agency noted.

Foxx is the second of many Cabinet officials from across the administration traveling to the commonwealth in the coming months to continue promoting Puerto Rico’s economic recovery, according to the DOT.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Funding; Infrastructure; Roads/Highways

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