States beat Recovery Act deadline

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Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that transportation projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are putting people to work and building a foundation for the country’s long-term economic strength. To date, $19 billion has been obligated to fund more than 5,300 approved for highway and other transportation projects nationwide; of those, 1,900 projects are already under way.

As part of the Obama administration’s effort to infuse Recovery Act funds swiftly into the economy, states were required under the Recovery Act to obligate 50 percent of their highway funds by Monday, June 29. Working in coordination with the U.S. Department of Transportation, all 55 U.S. states and territories successfully beat this deadline at least 10 days ahead of schedule.

“Our number-one priority with the Recovery Act is getting folks back to work – and there is no better way to do that in these early days than by putting shovels in the ground and jump-starting projects like these that create jobs and boost local communities,” Biden said. “By delivering on these projects ahead of schedule and under budget, we have been able to do even more than we expected – create more job opportunities more quickly, with more dollars left over to put toward more projects that put people back on the job.”

Across the country, transportation projects funded by the Recovery Act are coming in under budget and ahead of schedule. States routinely are receiving low bids for highway and airport construction projects that are 10 to 20 percent and, in some cases, 30 percent lower than expected. These lower-than-expected bids are allowing states to stretch taxpayer dollars, complete additional projects and create even more American jobs.

“Every state not only met the 120-day deadline, they beat it,” LaHood said. “This is a testament to the fact that we’re putting money out there quickly and helping to get the economy back on track.”

ARRA funding for highway projects may be used for restoration, repair, construction and other activities under the Surface Transportation Program. Each proposed project must be approved by the Federal Highway Administration. Governors must certify that proposed projects meet certain conditions and that the state will use ARRA funds in addition to, not in replacement of, state funding of transportation projects. Priority is given to projects that are projected to be completed within three years, are located in economically distressed areas or will maximize job creation and economic benefits.