It's nice to have an opportunity to let others carry the message that's so much on my mind--that the stimulus has been creating jobs and rebuilding America's transportation infrastructure. A gathering last week of state DOT leaders is one of those opportunities.
At its annual meeting, the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said:
- 2,000 projects are now underway, worth more than $6 billion;
- Over 5,600 projects have been identified and approved for bidding, with $16.7 billion flowing into the economy over the next two years;
- All 50 states moved swiftly to obtain federal approval for half of their federal funds within 120 days of the signing of the Recovery Act;
- 15 states have already obtained approval for 80% of their funds;
- 51% of the funds are being spent in economically disadvantaged areas, representing almost 40 percent of the nation’s population; and
- With bids coming in 5-30% lower than projected, more projects can be launched than initially planned.
To get an idea of the job creation we're talking about, consider that in the State of Washington alone $491 million in highway projects is sustaining over 3700 construction jobs. That's stimulus.
Construction has been one of the hardest-hit industries in this country, and I'm proud that the Recovery Act and the DOT have been helping those folks. Over the next 18 months, the stimulus will continue providing that important boost.
Sure, it's easy to look at the numbers of unemployed and wag fingers at the Recovery Act. But look at the number who would be unemployed without the $27 billion in highway and bridge projects we're making possible.
Then tell me we're not making a difference.