President Barack Obama announced funding for the 2,000th transportation project under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), six weeks after approving the first project. The President made the remarks at the US Department of Transportation with Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
ARRA provides a total of $48.1 billion for transportation infrastructure projects to be administered by the US Department of Transportation. Of that $27.5 billion is for highways and bridges, $8.4 billion is for transit, $8 billion is for high speed rail, $1.3 billion is for Amtrak, $1.5 billion is for discretionary infrastructure grants, $1.3 billion is for airports and Federal Aviation Administration facilities and equipment, and $100 million is for shipyards.
The 2,000th project is in Kalamazoo County, Michigan. The $68 million project involves widening of I-94 from two lanes both east and westbound to three lanes in each direction.
State departments of transportation around the country have reported to FHWA intense competition by contractors for ARRA projects. Bids have been roughly 15 to 20% lower on average, and as much as 30% lower in some cases, than engineers anticipated. For example, in Colorado, the state’s first five ARRA transportation projects announced on April 2 were 12% lower than anticipated. In Maine, one bridge project was 20% lower than estimated. In Oregon, during February and March 2009, bids have averaged 30% lower than expected.
Just 41 days ago we announced funding for the first transportation project under ARRA and today we’re approving the 2,000th project. I am proud to utter the two rarest phrases in the English language—projects are being approved ahead of schedule, and they are coming in under budget.—President Obama