WASHINGTON, D.C. --- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters announced that state and local transportation officials could tap into over $400 billion in global funding to pay for highway, bridge and transit projects to supplement federal transportation funding.

"We can unleash the greatest wave of transportation investment this country has ever seen," Peters said. "We have the need, the technology and the resources to build dozens more projects like the Hoover Dam Bypass."

Peters made the announcement during a visit to the Las Vegas area Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge project for an update on construction. She noted that economists estimate that over $400 billion is available worldwide today from a variety of private-sector sources to invest in transportation projects like the new bridge.

"Projects like this don't have to be an anomaly," Peters said.

Peters said the U.S. Department of Transportation was working to encourage private investment to help supplement the $50-plus billion a year the federal government is already providing to states to help maintain, improve and expand highways, bridges and other transportation systems.

"We need the political will to say no to earmarks, yes to private innovations, yes to faster approval times and yes to infrastructure projects that solve our congestion problem and help our economy," Peters said.

She said that Americans have lost confidence in the way the nation currently funds transportation projects because they see their gas taxes going to too many projects that do too little to reduce congestion. Peters noted, for example, that 76 percent of Nevadans in a recent newspaper survey said they opposed increasing indirect gas taxes to pay for transportation projects.

"If we treated our cities like our roads, Las Vegas would still be a one-hotel town," Peters said.