By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Gov. Martin O'Malley announced yesterday that an additional $72.6 million from the federal stimulus package will be spent on transportation projects in Prince George's and Montgomery counties, funding he said will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs.
The money will be used to repave roads, purchase buses and repair mass transit, according to John D. Porcari, secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
The funds are the second and last installment of transportation money from the $787 billion federal stimulus bill signed by President Obama last month. The state Department of Transportation distributed $365 million statewide for highway and transit projects last month, and an additional $242 million yesterday to jurisdictions across the state.
Prince George's County officials, who have complained in recent weeks that the county did not get its fair share from the first wave of spending, said yesterday that they were pleased about the additional money.
"We're certainly very happy with the funding," said John Erzen, a spokesman for Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D). "This will go a long way toward helping us with our projects and it goes a long way toward making us whole."
Porcari said that, by any measure, Prince George's is doing "very, very well." But he added that "we know this only covers a portion of the county's needs."
The lion's share of the money will be spent on highway projects, such as repaving portions of Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, East-West Highway in Riverdale Park and Route 1 in University Park, Porcari said.
To pay for local projects, Prince George's will receive $7.4 million and Montgomery $8.5 million. Charles County is receiving $1.9 million, Howard County $3 million and Anne Arundel County $6 million.
With the additional funding, Prince George's projects will have received a total of $52.8 million and Montgomery projects will have received a total of $41.9 million.
"As important as repairing infrastructure is, this is about creating jobs, and we want to begin the work as soon as possible," Porcari said.
O'Malley (D) said the state anticipates that the stimulus funds in Maryland will create or save about 67,000 jobs. More than 17,000 will be created or saved through the transportation projects statewide, he said.