This morning, I’m pleased to announce the DOT has passed yet another exciting Recovery Act milestone: the Department has now approved more than 6,000 highway projects across America – worth over $17.1 billion – for federal funding under ARRA .
This week, a $44.5 million project to widen congested US 60, or Grand Avenue, in Phoenix, AZ became the 6,000th highway project funded by the Recovery Act. Grand Avenue is one of Phoenix’s busiest and most congested corridors, serving an estimated 45,000 vehicles every day. Thanks to stimulus dollars, this route will receive two new lanes and other significant improvements that will relieve traffic and help to reduce greenhouse gases in the area. Most importantly, the project will generate good-paying transportation jobs that will put people to work in Arizona.
The Recovery Act has made an unprecedented $48.1 billion investment in our national transportation system in order to quickly create jobs and provide an economic shot in the arm to communities across the country. In the less than six months since ARRA was signed into law, the DOT has worked around the clock to get stimulus money out the door in record time.
We have already obligated $22.7 billion – nearly one-half of the DOT’s total ARRA appropriation – to fund more than 6,800 approved projects in 53 U.S. States and Territories. Work is currently underway on more than 3,300 of those transportation projects, and with so many coming in under budget, states are discovering they can do more for less. It’s a win-win: more projects, more jobs, with fewer taxpayer dollars.
The DOT team is working hard to get ARRA dollars out the door quickly, and we continue to look for new ways to accelerate stimulus spending even further. Last week I announced the establishment of a DOT review team to expedite the application process for our $1.5 billion TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grants program . This review team will enable the Department to award the entire $1.5 billion in January 2010 – one full month ahead of the statutory deadline. By awarding these TIGER grants ahead of schedule, we’ll be able to jump start major-impact projects and boost local economies across America even more quickly.
We’ve still got a ways to go to and a lot of hard work ahead to turn this economy around, but I know Americans are up to the challenge. From Phoenix to Portland to Kalamazoo, I’ve met people who want nothing more than to keep strapping on their work boots every day to support their families and communities. They have my commitment that the DOT will do everything possible to generate good jobs and speed the country’s economic recovery.