And we see it particularly in the work of this department –in the plans underway to rebuild crumbling roads and bridges, modernize our airports and shipyards, develop high-speed rail networks and restore aging public transit systems. All told, we are making the largest new investment in America’s infrastructure since President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System back in the 1950s.
But what is most remarkable about this effort — and what I’m here to talk about today — isn’t just the size of our investment, or the number of projects we’re investing in — it’s how quickly, efficiently, and responsibly those investments have been made.
Today, because these projects are getting approved more quickly than we thought, thanks to in large part the outstanding work of the TIGER team and folks here at the Department of Transportation, and because these projects are costing less than we thought, we can utter a sentence rarely heard in recent years: This government effort is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget. (Applause.)
Now, think about it. We passed the recovery plan less than two months ago. Two weeks later, I came here to DOT to announce that we would be investing $28 billion to rebuild and repair our highways, roads and bridges. Work on the very first project — resurfacing Route 650 in Silver Springs [sic], Maryland — began that very same day. People who’d been out of a job found themselves being called back to work.
And some of the crews are here today, and we want to thank them, and we’re proud of them, because they’re making the roads safer and some of your commutes a little bit better, and at the same time they’re doing what they’ve always done, working really hard to support their families and living out the American Dream. So we appreciate them. Thank you. (Applause.)
About a week later, we had approved 500 more projects. Two weeks after that, we had approved another 1,000 projects. And today, I’m proud to announce that we have approved the 2000th project — a project to widen an interstate and rebuild an overpass in Portage, Michigan, improving safety, reducing congestion and boosting local businesses.
This project will start this summer, creating an estimated 900 jobs right away — and it will go into 2011, creating nearly twice that many jobs altogether before it’s finished. So I want to acknowledge Governor Granholm, both for her leadership on this project and for her tireless work to strengthen Michigan’s economy. And I’m pleased that Joe Biden, who’s overseeing our recovery efforts, will be attending the groundbreaking for this project in June.
Now, some may have thought it would take months to get to this point. But in part because of the hard work and commitment of the people in this department, we approved these 2,000 projects in just 41 days.