Yes, we did: the 5-Year Anniversary of the Recovery Act
On February 17, 2009--five years ago--President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In office less than a month, he took a huge step forward in leading this nation out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. At the U.S. Department of Transportation, we knew the important role transportation could play in getting the economy back on its feet and when given the opportunity to help through Recovery Act funds, we said, "Yes, we can."
Five years later, DOT is proud to say, "Yes, we did."
By the first Recovery Act anniversary, we had created tens of thousands of jobs related to construction work across the country – all of which meant paychecks to American workers who could pay their rent or mortgages and feed their families. We improved more than 24,000 miles of highway and 1,100 bridges, tackled more than 700 transit projects, expanded options for bicyclists and pedestrians, reduced congestion and its associated pollutants, and upgraded runways and airports.
By September 30, 2010, we had awarded over $48 billion to more than 14,600 needed highway, road, transit, bridge, and airport projects across America. In fact, we were able to stretch our portion of Recovery Act funding to include additional projects because earlier projects were bid below previous estimates.
When all of the work is completed--that's right, the Recovery Act continues to support good jobs on good projects--we will have:
- Improved nearly 42,000 miles of American road;
- Repaired or replaced more than 2,700 bridges;
- Helped transit agencies purchase more than 12,220 transit vehicles;
- Upgraded or constructed more than 6,000 miles of better performing rail;
- Purchased 120 next-generation rail cars and locomotives; and
- Increased safety and convenience with more than 360 airport and runway projects.
The projects we have supported are much more than abstract milestones. Each one represents good jobs. Each one represents a community benefiting from economic activity stimulated by construction and renovation. Each one represents greater safety. And each one represents improved infrastructure that makes getting from point A to point B easier for people and for the freight that fuels our economy.
In project after project across the country, the Recovery Act has demonstrated the powerful dividends of transportation investment: Safety. Employment. Development. Efficiency. Mobility. Environment. Those dividends are very real for commuters using the expanded Caldecott Tunnel in California; for passengers and crew benefiting from improved lighting on runways at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport; for passengers traveling on higher speed rail between Chicago and St. Louis or Chicago and Detroit; for truck drivers passing through Oklahoma City on an improved I-40; and for transit passengers in Dallas riding the extended DART Green Line.
That kind of achievement does not come without dedicated DOT employees working together on behalf of the American people. But with the kind of dedication I've seen at DOT, I know we can do more.
The list of needed projects in every state from Alaska and Hawaii to Maine and Florida is not short. It's not a question of whether or not we can deliver the benefits of transportation investment to more communities nationwide. With our economic recovery progressing--with the private sector adding jobs continuously since 2010--how can we afford to stop now?