Today, officials from our Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) played two in the Mid-Atlantic road improvement league.
Administrator Victor Mendez helped Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Ben Cardin, and Congressman C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger break ground on a bridge replacement project on Baltimore's beltway, I-695. An hour or so northwest on I-95, Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau--making his Fast Lane debut--helped Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Senators Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman break ground on that state's Newark Toll Plaza Improvement Project.
I really like what Administrator Mendez told the crowd in Maryland, "Today, we are seeing the promise of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act brought to life."
- Provide greater safety for motorists;
- Reduce congestion;
- Build capacity for anticipated future traffic loads; and
- Create good jobs for people ready and willing to work
The bridge replacement in Maryland, for example, calls for a bridge that is 38 feet wider than the 1961 original it replaces, adding 34% to its current capacity. And it will employ people who would otherwise be seeking work.
And it doesn't stop there. Those projects require supplies and equipment. Those workers buy food for their families, eat in local restaurants, and spread their paychecks throughout the local economy.
Did I mention that the contract for the bridge replacement came in a full 40% lower than anticipated? It's true; the $18 million price tag is significantly under the $30 million expected cost, freeing up funds for additional projects that will create additional jobs and improve additional infrastructure.
Well done, Maryland!
Now, if you are a frequent driver of I-95 through Delaware, you are very familiar with the Newark Toll Plaza. Well, you can now be assured that, as Deputy Administrator Nadeau told the Delaware audience, "The age of waiting in line at this toll plaza is nearly over."
This project will reconfigure the toll plaza to add two highway-speed E-ZPass lanes in each direction. You can imagine how that will ease congestion and improve safety for drivers traveling through that busy plaza.
Even better, at its peak this project will employ over 300 people.
Good news? Just ask Delaware's own Vice President Biden:
"By putting people to work, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, saving time, and making the roadway safer and smoother for over half a million drivers each week, this project will provide Delaware with a boost today while improving its transportation system for the long-term."
Look, fifteen months into the Recovery Act, projects are still getting underway, still putting people back to work, and still stimulating our economy. This road work season, thanks to the Obama Administration, there are orange cones and barrels up across the country.
I have seen firsthand the difference it has made to American travelers. And I have seen the difference it has made to American workers and their families.
The Recovery Act is working for America.