San Juan, P.R. — U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau joined Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla and Puerto Rico Secretary of Transportation and Public Works Miguel Torres Díaz for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to reduce Puerto Rico’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. Today’s agreement provides tools and resources to help the Commonwealth put many crucial projects on track, creating jobs and spurring much needed economic development on the island.
“This agreement allows officials to continue making critical investments that will ensure Puerto Rico’s infrastructure maintains a high level of safety and efficiency,” said Secretary Foxx. “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.”
The MOU provides federal technical assistance to ensure that Puerto Rican transportation officials are able to expeditiously access about $400 million in previously obligated federal funds for infrastructure projects that will create jobs and spur economic development on the island. 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.
“I am thrilled to work with Secretary Foxx and the Department of Transportation to improve the Commonwealth’s infrastructure and create jobs,” said Governor Alejandro J. García Padilla. “Their commitment 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. While we continue to work tirelessly in seeking a comprehensive legal framework to restructure Puerto Rico’s unsustainable debt, 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.”
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 people of Puerto Rico deserve no less than the best,” said Federal Highway Administrator Nadeau. “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.”
Secretary Foxx is the second of many Cabinet officials from across the Administration who will be traveling to the Commonwealth in the coming months to continue promoting Puerto Rico’s economic recovery.