buses and trains that commuters take every day. Many of these projects will be coordinated by Secretary LaHood and all of you at the Department of Transportation. And I want you to know that the American public is grateful to public servants like you — men and women whose work isn’t always recognized, but whose jobs are critical to our nation’s safety, security, and prosperity. You have never been more important than you are right now, and for that we are all grateful. (Applause.)
Now, in the coming days and weeks, my administration will be announcing more details about the kinds of transportation projects that will be launched as part of the recovery plan. But today, I want to speak about an investment we are making in one part of our infrastructure. Through the Recovery Act, we will be investing $28 billion in our highways, money that every one of our 50 states can start using immediately to put people back to work. It’s an investment being made at an unprecedented pace, thanks in large part to Joe Biden, who’s leading the effort to get the money out the door quickly. Because of Joe, and because of all the governors and mayors, county and city officials who are helping implement this plan, I can say that 14 days after I signed our Recovery Act into law, we are seeing shovels hit the ground.
As Secretary LaHood noted, the first contract will be awarded to American Infrastructure, a family business in Pennsylvania that will be resurfacing a road in Maryland. More than 100 other people will begin receiving funds today, as well. Over the next few weeks, we will launch more than 200 construction projects across this country, fueling growth in an industry that’s been hard hit by our economic crisis.
Altogether, this investment in highways will create or save 150,000 jobs by the end of next year, most of them in the private sector. (Applause.) And just to give you a sense of perspective, that’s more jobs being created or saved in one year than GM, Ford, and Chrysler have lost in manufacturing over the past three years — combined. The job — the jobs that we’re creating are good jobs that pay more than average; jobs grinding asphalt and paving roads, filling potholes, making street signs, repairing stop lights, replacing guard rails.
But what makes this investment so important is not simply that we will jumpstart job creation, or reduce the congestion that costs us nearly $80 billion a year, or rebuild the aging roads that cost drivers billions more a year in upkeep. What makes it so important is that by investing in roads that have earned a grade of D- by America’s leading civil engineers — roads that should have been rebuilt long ago — we can save some 14,000 men and women who lose their lives each year due to bad roads and driving conditions. Like a broken levee or a bridge with a shaky foundation, poor roads are a public hazard — and we