Feds say economic stimulus is working

| 7/27/2009

The economic stimulus plan that became law in February has jump-started more than $22 billion in highway and transit projects so far and has created 48,000 jobs according to the official oversight board.

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board reported that all 50 states are benefiting from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The nearly $800 billion act dedicated $48 billion specifically to the U.S. Department of Transportation and a total of $64.1 billion overall for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. The rest went to such things as tax relief, state budgets, health care and education.

President Obama signed the recovery act into law in February as one of his first official duties. Progress and oversight of the recovery is tracked at www.recovery.gov.

On Friday, July 31, the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will convene to discuss six months of progress.

“The transportation and infrastructure programs of the Recovery Act have already begun to play a key role in putting Americans back to work,” T&I Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-MN, stated on Monday, July 27. “The highway and transit projects now under way have created or sustained over 48,000 direct, on-project jobs and tens of thousands of indirect and induced jobs in every corner of the country.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been promoting the stimulus as “the most sweeping, complex, and ambitious domestic aid package we have enacted in generations.”

LaHood stated during a recent address to the National Association of Counties that more than $22 billion of the DOT’s stimulus money has been paid out. The rest will be allocated in a year or less.

“The Recovery Act is essential to bringing our economy back – but it’s also a dress rehearsal for an even more ambitious effort,” LaHood told county officials.

“We want to ensure that transportation plays a major role in our ability to create the kinds of neighborhoods people want to live in; to reduce our dependence on private vehicles and foreign oil; and promote a cleaner, greener environment. And we want to ensure that rural communities have access to high-quality transportation.”

LaHood’s comments to county officials centered on a concept of using transit and rail in metro areas to relieve highway congestion.

 – By David Tanner, staff writer