Last Thursday marked the second time in four months that I went to New Mexico to celebrate a success story created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Back in February, we marked the one year anniversary of the Recovery Act by announcing a $31 million TIGER grant to the Navajo Nation to help make a section of US 491 safer.
As Secretary LaHood noted, "The Recovery Act was passed to turn back the worst recession since the Great Depression. Through it, we're rebuilding our transportation infrastructure and forging a stronger economic future in New Mexico and all across the United States."
The nearly $15 million we committed to the I-40/Paseo del Volcan project was money well spent. We heard from many attending the opening that the road work put about 150 people to work directly, generating over $1.7 million in payroll.
The project also pumped money into local businesses--creating even more jobs. NM Transportation Secretary Gary L. J. Girón told the crowd:
“The economic impact of this job has trickled down the line. Not only did those working for our contractor Mountain States Constructors benefit, but so did the subcontractors—truckers were employed to haul material; asphalt companies were hired to provide material—extending the benefits far beyond those 150 employees.”
Motorists will notice the full roadway and interchange reconstruction, a new overpass, new ramps, and new construction of Paseo del Volcan in the surrounding area.
The completed project will also let commuters from Albuquerque’s growing West Side spend less time stuck in traffic. The estimated 25,000 daily drivers currently served by the newly completed segment is expected to more than double in the next 15 years due to a surge in West Side residential and commercial development.
So our investment is not only improving our infrastructure, it's also giving time back for people to enjoy with their families and friends.
Now, this may be New Mexico’s first major Recovery Act project, but it certainly won’t be the last. As Gov. Richardson pointed out, New Mexico has 77 projects under construction during this Summer of Recovery.
We can look forward to many celebrations like this, here in New Mexico and around the country. Across the United States, we’ve committed more than $26 billion from the Recovery Act to 12,000 highway projects.
Last week, I had the honor to be with President Obama and Secretary LaHood in Columbus, Ohio, to break ground on the 10,000th Recovery Act highway project underway in this country.
There, the President said, "To rebuild the American economy, we must rebuild America."
And that’s what we’re doing. This is, indeed, going to be a Summer of Recovery for New Mexico and across America. We have six times more Recovery projects underway this summer than we did last summer. And we’re going to improve more than 30,000 miles of highway this summer. That’s three times as many miles as we improved last summer and enough to make 10 trips across the country.
We’re making travel safer and easier for millions of people, and we’re creating jobs. Overall, the Recovery Act is already responsible for about 2.5 million jobs, with tens of thousands of those in the transportation sector. By the end of 2010, you’ll see that Recovery Act jobs number climb to 3.5 million.
As Secretary LaHood is fond of saying, “The Recovery Act is working for America.”