Obama visits DOT as stimulus funds roll out
President Barack Obama appeared at Department of Transportation headquarters Tuesday, where he announced that $26.6 billion of transportation infrastructure spending from the economic recovery law has already been apportioned and that 'we are seeing shovels hit the ground.'
Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Obama said the $28 billion in total funding for highway projects will save or create 95,000 construction jobs by the end of 2010 and eliminate long-neglected safety hazards that contribute to thousands of deaths per year. Another 55,000 jobs will be protected or generated as a result of consumer activity by construction workers, according to the White House.
Obama said the first contract awarded with stimulus funds released by the DOT went to American Infrastructure, a family business in Pennsylvania that will resurface a road in Maryland. More than 100 other companies also received contracts Tuesday, and more than 200 construction projects will be started within the next few weeks, he added.
Freight transportation companies have a vested interest in highway improvements that can minimize the amount of time trucks spend in traffic or dangerous road conditions.
The president insisted that by shining sunlight on how projects are delivered he plans to minimize waste, fraud and abuse. Biden will oversee the stimulus program and the administration has appointed an inspector general to undercover mismanagement.
'And I’m also deputizing every single American to visit a new Web site called recovery.gov so you can see where your tax dollars are going and hold us accountable for results,' Obama told an auditorium full of DOT employees.
The government is creating signs bearing the emblem of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that will be placed at job sites denoting projects funded by the stimulus law. Transportation projects will have a separate emblem as well, Obama said.
'Never before in the history of this country have the people been more able to see with such complete transparency how we’re going to put their money to work,' Biden added. ' Eric Kulisch