The Department of Transportation reached three key milestones this week under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I think people should hear about:
- The Federal Highway Administration designated its final Recovery Act project, meeting the September 30th deadline for awarding nearly $27.5 billion for highway and bridge projects throughout the US.
- The Federal Transit Administration announced its final Recovery Act grant, meeting its September 30th deadline for awarding $8.8 billion for transit projects.
- The Federal Aviation Administration selected three additional airport Recovery Act projects, paid for with $2.5 million that became available because of low bids on Recovery Act airport projects nationwide. This is in addition to $9 million for five airport projects FAA announced earlier this month, also because money became available due to lower than expected bids on other projects.
I want to thank the professionals of DOT for their hard work establishing guidelines, evaluating applications, and carefully selecting projects. This department has made more than $48 billion available to more than 14,600 needed highway, road, transit, bridge and airport projects across America. That kind of achievement does not come without dedicated employees working together on behalf of the American people.
The projects announced this week are more than just abstract milestones. Each one represents jobs. Each one represents a community benefiting from economic activity stimulated by construction and renovation. And each one represents improved infrastructure that will make getting from point A to point B easier for travelers and the goods we use every day.
Because so many projects are still underway, workers will be on those jobs for some time, and communities will continue to enjoy the economic ripple effects those projects create. Readers may recall, for example, the Caldecott Tunnel bore near Oakland, California, where workers are expected to be in demand for several years, or the I-695 bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, with jobs expected to last for at least another year.
And the FAA isn't the only agency in DOT able to leverage lower than expected bids. Costs on several FHWA projects also came in significantly lower than expected. For example, road-widening on SR 200 near Callahan, Florida, was bid at 48% less than the engineer's estimate of $50.1 million, and I-59 pavement replacement in Gadsden, Alabama, was awarded at 31% below the original estimate of $53.9 million. Those savings mean more good projects can be awarded, creating or saving more good jobs.
Since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in February 2009, we at DOT have been working night and day to restore America's long-neglected transportation infrastructure. Because a 21st century economy needs a 21st century transportation network.
And DOT is far from finished revitalizing our nation's transportation. We're rolling out a second round of TIGER grants, and for $600 million Congress made available for TIGER II, we've received $19 billion in applications. That means $32 in requests for every $1 available. Across the country, communities are solving their transportation problems with good, innovative, multi-modal projects. And DOT is happy to help make those projects possible.
From day one, the Obama Administration has focused on reversing the worst recession since the Great Depression. It will take more time than any of us wants to dig out of a hole that deep. But had Congress not passed the Recovery Act and provided this critical stimulus, America would have seen double-digit unemployment and faced a crisis worse than anyone wants to imagine.
We’ve stabilized the economy and have seen private-sector job growth for eight months in a row. And I am proud to serve in a DOT that has played such a key role in putting men and women back to work, helping families pay their rent or mortgages, and delivering needed transportation improvements across America.