By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
President Obama yesterday released $26.6 billion for highway construction meant to revive the economy, including a mile-long repaving on New Hampshire Avenue in Montgomery County.
In remarks to about 500 employees at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in the District, Obama said the transportation projects represent the largest government infrastructure investment since the 1950s. Construction spending was a component of last month's $787 billion economic stimulus package.
Obama was joined by Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He said the highway spending would create or save 150,000 jobs by the end of next year, most of them in the private sector.
"That's more jobs being created or saved in one year than GM, Ford and Chrysler have lost in manufacturing over the past three years combined," he said.
LaHood said the first contract will be awarded to American Infrastructure, a family business based in Worcester, Pa., for the $2.1 million project on New Hampshire Avenue in the White Oak area. The project is expected to support 60 jobs and be completed by late this fall, according to state officials.
In addition to resurfacing six lanes between Milestone and Venice drives, workers will replace curbs and gutters, install pedestrian signals at crosswalks and bring sidewalks up to standards established under the Americans With Disabilities Act, officials said.
State and local officials across the country are gearing up to receive the federal stimulus money. Transportation officials in the Washington region have said that they would use their share to pay for bridge maintenance, bus purchases and other large rehabilitation projects. Maryland officials estimate that the federal money will create 17,500 transportation jobs, about 10,000 in the first wave of spending.