Shovels Are Hitting The Ground

Fourteen days after signing the Recovery Act into law, shovels are hitting the ground.

President Obama announced the apportionment of $26.6 billion of a total $28 billion in infrastructure spending in his remarks at the Department of Transportation today.

“Two weeks ago, I signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the most sweeping economic recovery plan in history,” he said. “And already, its impact is being felt across this nation. Hardworking families can now worry a little less about next month’s bills because of the tax cut they’ll soon find in the mail. Renewable energy companies that were once downsizing are now finding ways to expand. And transportation projects that were once on hold are now starting up again — as part of the largest new investment in America’s infrastructure since President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System.”

Just prior to the President’s remarks, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the first project will be resurfacing 4 miles of State Route 650 in Montgomery County, MD.

Continuing his remarks, President Obama said, “One of the challenges is to jumpstart lending, so businesses and families can finance the purchases of everything from inventory and payroll to a home, a car, or a college education. We have to jumpstart the credit markets and get private lending going again. No matter how good of a job we do here, that’s going to be critical. And that’s why the Treasury and the Federal Reserve are launching today the Consumer and Business Lending Initiative, which, when fully implemented, will generate up to a trillion dollars of new lending for the American people. And this will help unlock our frozen credit markets, which is absolutely essential for economic recovery.
“But we also know that there cannot be a sustained recovery unless and until we put Americans back to work and put money in their pockets.

“Of the 3.5 million jobs that will be created and saved over the next two years as a result of this recovery plan, 400,000 will be jobs rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, and schools, repairing our faulty levees and dams, connecting nearly every American to broadband, and upgrading the buses and trains that commuters take every day.

“Now, in the coming days and weeks, my administration will be announcing more details about the kinds of transportation projects that will be launched as part of the recovery plan. But today, I want to speak about an investment we are making in one part of our infrastructure. Through the Recovery Act, we will be investing $28 billion in our highways, money that every one of our 50 states can start using immediately to put people back to work. It’s an investment being made at an unprecedented pace.
“As Sec. LaHood noted, the first contract will be awarded to American Infrastructure, a family business in Pennsylvania that will be resurfacing a road in Maryland. More than 100 other people will begin receiving funds today, as well. Over the next few weeks, we will launch more than 200 construction projects across this country, fueling growth in an industry that’s been hard hit by our economic crisis.

“Altogether, this investment in highways will create or save 150,000 jobs by the end of next year, most of them in the private sector. And just to give you a sense of perspective, that’s more jobs being created or saved in one year than GM, Ford, and Chrysler have lost in manufacturing over the past three years — combined. The job — the jobs that we’re creating are good jobs that pay more than average; jobs grinding asphalt and paving roads, filling potholes, making street signs, repairing stop lights, replacing guard rails.
“But what makes this investment so important is not simply that we will jumpstart job creation, or reduce the congestion that costs us nearly $80 billion a year, or rebuild the aging roads that cost drivers billions more a year in upkeep. What makes it so important is that by investing in roads that have earned a grade of D- by America’s leading civil engineers [American Society of Civil Engineers]– roads that should have been rebuilt long ago — we can save some 14,000 men and women who lose their lives each year due to bad roads and driving conditions. Like a broken levee or a bridge with a shaky foundation, poor roads are a public hazard — and we have a responsibility to fix them.

“ We’re also making it easier for Americans to see what projects are being funded with their money as part of our recovery. So in the weeks to come, the signs denoting these projects are going to bear the new emblem of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Transportation projects will be stamped with another emblem, as well. These emblems are symbols of our commitment to you, the American people — a commitment to investing your tax dollars wisely, to put Americans to work doing the work that needs to be done. So when you see them on projects that your tax dollars made possible, let it be a reminder that our government — your government — is doing its part to put the economy back on the road of recovery.
“And so, in the days and years ahead, as you’re driving on new roads or roads that are newly paved, I hope it will give you some measure of satisfaction to know that it was all done by putting your fellow citizens to work. I hope it will give you a sense of pride to know that even as we pursued our economic recovery, we renewed our American landscape.
“ Throughout our history, there have been times when a generation of Americans seized the chance to remake the face of this nation. It’s what we did in the midst of civil war by connecting our coasts with a transcontinental railroad. It’s what we did in the midst of depression by putting up a golden bridge in San Francisco, and electrifying rural America, and completing a great dam in the Southwest. It’s what we’re doing once more — by building a 21st century infrastructure that will make America’s economy stronger and America’s people safer.”

To learn more about how the funds are going to be spent, including state-by-state and urban-suburban-rural breakdowns, visit the President’s website Recovery.gov.
Greg Sitek

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