Approaching the podium to a warm round of applause, Vice President Joe Biden opened his remarks by commenting on the heat inside the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) Headquarters. He casually took off his suit jacket then said confidently that “The best mayor in the entire country is Mike Duggan.”
That was just the first of many glowing remarks the Vice President had about the revitalization efforts in Detroit during his speech on Thursday.Biden vistited Detroit to promote a series of recent investments made by the Obama administration that will further advance the city’s economic revitalization. Specifically, the Vice President praised the the arrival of 80 new hybrid and clean diesel public transportation buses to the DDOT fleet.
The project, which began in September 2014, awarded Detroit $25.9 million through the Obama Administration’s Ladders of Opportunity program. The money was used to purchase the much needed new buses in an effort to tackle the numerous transportation issues such as overcrowding and long wait times.
The investment will further improve the system by providing more accessible and reliable service for a highly transit-dependent population where 60 percent of residents do not have access to a car, and 35 percent live below the poverty line.
The clean-fuel buses will replace aging vehicles that have been plagued by maintenance issues, resulting in better on-time service, as well as reduced carbon emissions. The new buses will also provide riders with essential links to jobs, education, training and other opportunities throughout Detroit, including vital connections to the Central Business District.
The conclusion of this effort marks the first time in years that DDOT will achieve it’s full scheduled pull out, thanks to the addition of 80 new buses, 100 more drivers, and 35 new mechanics, all of which was accomplished within one year.The DDOT praise was only the tip of the announcement iceberg for Biden, who followed up with several other important mentions regarding the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to ensuring Detroit’s successful revitalization.
After announcing an additional $55 million in grants to reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and help combat carbon emissions, Biden announced the launch of the Administration’s Institute for Affianced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), located in Tennessee, which will foster growth in the manufacturing industry and to increase the competitiveness of American products across the globe.
Biden announced that the IACMI will open its Michigan research and development facility in Detroit, in the same building as the Department of Defense led lightweight metals institute in the Corktown area. This joins the two important research facilities that will explore how materials need to be joined and work together in cars of the future: lightweight metals working with advanced composites.
The move is an effort by the Obama Administration to aid the auto industry as it adapts to meet new national fuel economy standards. The Administration believes that this will make the new standards more easily achievable by reducing the weight of cars by using lighter weight metals and advanced composites.Duggan thanked Biden for the Administration’s continued support. The Adminstraion has redirected $300 million in federal investments towards Detroit’s revitalization efforts thus far, which, over the years, has helped bail out automotive companies, develop the M-1 Rail project, reinvigorate the city’s Department of Neighborhoods and Revitalization and its public housing authority, develop workforce training programs, install LED streetlights in neighborhoods, and even help build green infrastructure.
Biden’s excitement around Detroit’s revitalization was palpable, and he believes we will only continue to improve from here.
“We’re back,” he said, “Detroit’s back.”