The Obama administration is giving its stimulus projects a new push and a stronger emphasis, saying transportation construction projects are reaching a peak for the two-year spending program.
As part of that effort, President Obama plans to visit June 18 in Columbus, Ohio, a roadway project that was aided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The White House said it is the 10,000th road project funded by the ARRA.
On June 14, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez visited Garden Grove, Calif., for the groundbreaking of a $400 million highway project, for which the ARRA kicked in $50 million. Recently, the president also visited a Maryland heavy truck dealership to point out how the stimulus is helping lift the freight sector.
The White House said this summer’s peak construction season includes six times as many highway projects under way in July as in July 2009, more than 10,000 this year compared with 1,750 at the same point last year when the stimulus was getting started.
In all, the FHWA says it has obligated all the $26.6 billion in stimulus funding it was allocated, to back more than 12,000 separate road and bridge projects. Over 2,200 have already been completed, and over 10,300 are currently under way.
That is the bulk of the $48.1 billion that the Department of Transportation is distributing, some of which goes to airports, transit and a host of intermodal and port projects through a discretionary grant program.
The DOT is also trying to launch a major intercity passenger rail program with $8 billion in stimulus funds, most of which will go into Amtrak lanes in track corridors owned by major freight railroads. But those freight carriers bristled over recent federal regulations that tie the funding to their railway maintenance and on-time performance, and DOT Secretary Ray LaHood recently met with top freight rail CEOs to try to get those projects moving.
By June 8, the DOT said it had obligated about $37 billion for specific projects, and had paid out $13.262 billion to reimburse states for work that is already completed.