Shovels stand ready
Two months after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), very few shovels have started digging. However, most states have prepared lists of ready-to-go projects and are expected to begin awarding contracts on those projects soon.
In February, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began several road projects that, while initially funded with state money, eventually will be paid for by ARRA. MoDOT released its final list of $577 million in projects on March 19, exceeding the $525 million the state has left to spend. “We built in an extra 10 percent into the project list to make sure we could go after funds that other states don’t spend,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said in a statement. “Even if those funds don’t become available, we’re committed to delivering every project on the list.”
In February, Maine Gov. John Baldacci announced that Belmont, N.H.-based Pike Industries entered the low bid of $31.4 million for rehabilitating a stretch of Interstate 295, an ARRA-related project that is expected to create 840 jobs. “The I-295 Northbound project is our top highway priority and the largest single project proposed by the Maine Department of Transportation for recovery funds,” Baldacci said in a statement. “The road was built in the early 1970s, and it is failing. Interstate 295 is crucial to Maine’s economy. It is a major artery in our state.”
Transportation projects are not the only ARRA-related projects on states’ lists. California will receive $160 million from ARRA for the state’s Drinking Water Fund to improve water-processing infrastructure, says Ronald Owens, spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health. “In February, the California Department of Public Health began a Web-based pre-application process to enable agencies to apply for the funds,” Owens says. “In total, 2,274 projects were submitted with a total value of $6.8 billion.”
ARRA requires all states to have at least 50 percent of their federal stimulus funds obligated within 120 days of March 3 (when funding became available) and all stimulus projects obligated within one year and completed within three years.