The good news: Transportation stimulus projects reach 10K; The bad news: We’re still without a highway bill and guaranteed funding


From ConstructionPundit’s sister blog, The Roadologist:

The Department of Transportation has jumpstarted more than 10,000 transportation projects across the United States with stimulus dollars, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.

As of the announcements, state agencies reported a total of 10,041 projects had been approved.

“Just nine months in, tens of thousands of people are on the job at highway, bridge, rail and airport improvement projects across the country…,” Biden said in a written statement. “These projects are not only providing new opportunities for hard-hit workers and businesses during tough economic times, but helping lay a strong foundation to support our 21st century economy. This is a significant milestone on the road to recovery, but we continue to work every day to create more jobs and drive economic growth.”

LaHood noted in the same written statement that it has been the U.S. Department of Transportation’s “top priority” since the start of the Recovery Act to quickly get money out the door to create jobs and boost the economy.

“In less than 10 months, we have spurred construction of 10,000 transportation projects across the country – many of which would have been stalled or shelved altogether without Recovery Act dollars,” LaHood said. “In addition to being economically crucial, these projects are critical investments in our national infrastructure.”

However, despite these projects and their respective funding, next year is still going to be tough, according to Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. The organization says the “the recession is officially over,” but its Chief Economist, Anirban Basu, points out, “While the industry battled the effects of the recession in 2009, expect 2010 to be a transitional but sluggish year on the road to recovery.”

As of this week, the U.S. DOT has made $48.1 billion available for highway, road, transit, bridge and airport construction and repairs nationwide.? Of that, $30.6 billion already has been obligated to fund 10,041 approved projects in 53 U.S. States and Territories, with 6,547 transportation projects underway.

According to the U.S. DOT, here is a breakdown of transportation funding with the stimulus:

*The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded 99 percent of its funding, $1.2 billion, for 355 airport improvement projects;

*Federal Highway Administration has approved $20.2 billion for more than 8,500 road, bridge and highway projects;

*Federal Transit Administration has awarded $7.4 billion to state and local transit agencies for new vehicles, facility renovations and maintenance;

*Federal Railroad Administration has approved 93 percent of funding available under the Amtrak Capital Grants program; and

*MARAD has spent 96 million, or 100 percent of its ARRA program funds, for capital improvements to small shipyards.

*This winter, the U.S. DOT will also announce $8 billion in grants to launch high-speed rail in the United States, and another $1.5 billion in TIGER Discretionary Grants.

I’m glad the stimulus is helping with new transportation projects and jobs. However, we need to make sure this rah-rah talk translates into what we really need–a new highway bill.

Without the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU, we’re still on a downward spiral. Sure, the stimulus is helping. But without the promise of secured funding, the construction and transportation industries are in real trouble.