Vice President Joe Biden last week announced that 10,000 transportation projects are now under way in all 50 states and the District of Columbia because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Projects are considered under way when a contractor has been hired, the project has received official notice to proceed, and work has begun. This milestone comes just over a year after the Recovery Act was signed into law and as the spring construction season is getting into full swing.
“The 10,000 transportation projects under way are already helping put us on the road to economic recovery, but there is even more to come,” Biden says. “This spring, Recovery Act projects will pick up the pace across the country, providing even more jobs improving America’s roads, highways and bridges.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation says the Recovery Act has improved more than 33,000 miles of pavement across the United States; helped purchase nearly 12,000 buses, vans and rail vehicles; helped construct or renovate more than 850 transit facilities; and provided more than $620 million in preventive maintenance, all helping to save and create jobs while maintaining and enhancing the nation’s transportation network.
During the first week of March, DOT successfully met an aggressive deadline to “obligate” – or commit funds to specific projects – 100 percent of its Recovery Act highway and transit formula dollars. “Every new Recovery Act project means workers back on the job, paying their rent or mortgage, putting food on the table for their families,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These 10,000 projects are strengthening our economy and creating jobs right now, and there are more projects still to come this spring.”
LaHood also announced $11.8 million in ARRA job training grants for 19 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The grants, from the Federal Highway Administration’s “On the Job Training/Supportive Services” (OJT/SS) program, fund apprenticeships and training centers for underrepresented or disadvantaged people pursuing careers in transportation, engineering or construction.
“Creating good jobs is what the Recovery Act is about, and these grants help people to get them and do them well,” LaHood says. “We can never have enough well-trained people to help take care of our highway system, and these grants support those who help us keep America moving.”
Created in 1998, the OJT/SS program promotes training opportunities for women and minorities who continue to be underrepresented in the highway construction industry’s skilled and semi-skilled crafts, such as masonry and carpentry. “By giving people the skills they need to succeed in highway construction, these grants will help people find jobs and are a valuable part of our efforts to sustain economic recovery,” says Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez.