Today marks the 200th day of the Obama Administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez traveled to Maple Grove, Minnesota. Joined by Senators Amy Kloubuchar and Al Franken, and Rep. Erik Paulsen, he kicked-off a new project to extend Highway 610 in the Twin Cities' fast-growing northern suburbs. Coincidentally, the 610 project is expected to create 200 new jobs. That is stimulus.
This is an important time for America's highways; we've just completed the second 100-days of the Recovery Act, and American communities have a lot to show for it. 3,458 road projects are underway or already completed. But these aren't just projects--they're new jobs, over 30,000 of them. 100 projects are underway now in Minnesota alone.
The 610 project will be Minnesota's largest ARRA project to date. The $48 million work--including $27 million in Recovery Act money--features two new interchanges, three highway bridges, a pedestrian bridge, storm water ponds, noise walls, bus-only shoulders, and aesthetic improvements. This extension increases neighborhood safety by diverting vehicles from heavily-trafficked local roads.
What I really like about this particular project, apart from the jobs it creates and the economic ripples from those jobs into the community, is that, before the Recovery Act, the Minnesota DOT couldn't budget the work to begin until 2014. Thanks to the stimulus, the work begins today and will be completed by 2011. That's a full 3 years before it was even due to start!
For the folks whose neighborhood streets will be quieter and safer, that's big news. And for the folks called back to work on Highway 610 and for the businesses where payroll will be spent, that's stimulus.
When the stimulus started this spring, DOT had high hopes for the program. It has exceeded all expectations. The Recovery Act is working for Minnesota; it's working for America.