State takes big strides with ARRAIf you’ve done any traveling this summer, you’ve probably noticed the increase in road construction projects throughout the state.
By: Steve Murphy, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
If you’ve done any traveling this summer, you’ve probably noticed the increase in road construction projects throughout the state. While we sometimes get annoyed by delays and detours, in terms of our state’s transportation safety and mobility, we should be very pleased that all of this work is being done.
In large part, we can thank the federal government for passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for these improvements to our state’s infrastructure.
Earlier in the year, Congress passed the ARRA to stimulate the nation’s struggling economy, get folks back to work, and make improvements to public infrastructure. A good portion of this investment went toward our nation’s roads, bridges, and transit systems.
In all, Minnesota received $502 million for highway and bridge projects, $92 million for transit enhancement, and $23 million for airport development.
The state is also applying for ARRA competitive grants to advance high-speed passenger rail and transportation projects that would promote economic development opportunities.
As a state, we are making very good use of this federal investment, and, as a result, it is accomplishing its goal. The Minnesota Department of Transportation should be commended for their planning and preparedness to receive these funds and the expedited manner they have been able to get projects underway. To date, our state has obligated $341 million of the $502 million for road and bridge projects.
MnDOT has put 120 construction projects out to bid. So far, work has started on 95 of these projects, and 10 have already been created. These projects have created or sustained 2,903 jobs — exactly what is needed during a time of significant losses in the construction industry.
Further, these federal dollars are providing a great benefit to Minnesota taxpayers. During this time of economic crisis, gas tax revenues are falling because people are driving less, meaning less state funding is being collected for transportation projects. This influx of federal dollars is more than offsetting the decline in revenues we are seeing at the state level.
Also, by completing so many projects ahead of schedule with these federal funds, other important local projects will be moved ahead in the queue for completion.
The ARRA has proven that investing in infrastructure projects creates jobs and stimulates the economy. Beyond that, everyone benefits from safer bridges, less-congested roads, and increased opportunities to use rail and transit. The success of the ARRA should be noted by the Minnesota Legislature when moving forward in economic-recovery efforts in the 2010 session.
Passage of a state bonding bill, which invests in improvements to our state’s public buildings and educational facilities, transportation system, and parks and trails, will provide another boost to the economy and provide more jobs for our citizens.
Steve Murphy, a-Red Wing, can be reached at 651) 385-7649 or firstname.lastname@example.org.