Highway investment hits $20 billion

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) crossed the $20 billion mark in approved obligations for highway, road and bridge projects this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

Of the $26.6 billion available for federal highway and bridge projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more than 75 percent has now been obligated.

“Even though winter is right around the corner, highway and bridge projects are still getting underway, creating thousands of jobs and saving thousands more,” LaHood says in a written statement. “The Recovery Act is helping repair America’s roads and bridges while putting people back to work.”

The $36 million replacement of the I-25/Alameda bridge in Denver pushed the FHWA past the milestone. The project’s approval capped one of the busiest months of highway spending, with nearly $760 million approved.

The government agency says other substantial progress that has bee made recently includes the following:

· August: Construction began on the $26.2 million I-279/Fort Duquesne Bridge preservation project in Pittsburgh, PA, designed to improve the safety of the bridge that serves an estimated 81,000 drivers each day.

· September: Work got underway in San Bernardino, Calif., on a massive billion-dollar project, using $128 million in ARRA funds for additional lanes on I-215 to reduce traffic congestion that had been crippling the local economy;

· September: Work began on the three-mile extension of Minneapolis’ Trunk Highway 610 to I-94. When completed, this project will reduce traffic congestion and improve area residents’ quality of life with sound walls and a pedestrian bridge

· October: In Nelsonville, Ohio, construction started on the 8.5-mile, four-lane highway to divert interstate traffic from local streets. The project is using $138 million in ARRA funds and is the largest Recovery Act underway in Ohio to date.

“By addressing many long-overdue repairs to America’s roads and bridges, projects like these are improving the economy and local quality of life while strengthening the nation’s infrastructure,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez says in a written statement.

To date, nearly 8,500 highway projects have been approved and nearly 5,000 are underway. –by Tina Grady Barbaccia