President Barack Obama addresses a crowd gathered at the Department of Transportation to discuss infrastructure spending, as Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood listen. (Source: White House)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden announced the release of $28 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to states and local transportation authorities to repair and build highways, roads and bridges.
This investment is expected to save or create about 150,000 jobs by the end of 2010.
State highway departments have identified more than 100 transportation projects totaling more than $750 million, where construction can start within the month. The U.S. Department of Transportation will monitor state compliance and track job creation. Information on the projects’ progress will be posted on Recovery.gov, the government’s site that allows Americans to keep abreast of government spending.
During a ceremony at the Department of Transportation with Secretary Ray LaHood, the president and vice president addressed about 300-400 DOT employees in the eight-story atrium style dining area adjacent to the cafeteria.
Biden told the DOT employees: “We’re counting on you. It’s that simple.” Biden said of the largest road-building project since the Interstate highway system since the 1950s: “It’s a big deal.”
He said the White House is asking DOT for “diligence, transparency, and responsibility” in implementing the stimulus law. “This is a big deal,” Biden said again. He then proceeded to introduce the president as “the chief architect” of the rebuilding process.
All three emphasized accountability in putting the law into effect. Obama said that “To you, he’s Mr. Vice President, but around the White House we call him [Biden] the sheriff, because if you’re misusing taxpayer money, you’ll have to answer to him.” That prompted a laugh from Biden, standing behind the president onstage.
Obama also pointed to a new logo that will be displayed at highway construction sites, a round, red-white-blue-and-green symbol that features stars, a leafy branch and some stars from the American flag.
Obama declared that 14 days after he signed the economic stimulus package into law, “we are seeing shovels hit the ground.” The president referenced a highway rebuilding project that is starting today in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is employing a family-owned Pennsylvania firm, American Infrastructure.