Press Release Summary:
In testimony on behalf of AASHTO before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Gary Ridley, Oklahoma DOT Secretary, said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has been an unequivocal success. He cited Federal Highway Administration reports that found almost 80%, or more than $21 billion, of ARRA funds set aside for transportation projects have gone through federal approval process and are proceeding to construction.
Original Press Release:
AASHTO Testifies: Recovery Act is Delivering Jobs and Boosting the Economy
(Washington, D.C.)- State departments of transportation are acting quickly to boost the economy and are delivering jobs and large, complex multi-million dollar projects across the country, according to Oklahoma DOT Secretary Gary Ridley, who testified today on behalf of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). At a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Ridley said that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has been an unequivocal success.
"More than 5,400 highway and bridge projects valued at $14 billion are under construction in every part of the country," Ridley said, citing newly released reports from the Federal Highway Administration that found that almost 80 percent, or more than $21 billion, of the ARRA funds set aside for transportation projects have gone through the federal approval process and are proceeding to construction. In his home state of Oklahoma, Ridley said 90 percent of the highways funds have been obligated to projects and 83 percent are already under construction. "We have moved much faster than the law required," Ridley said. He attributed the successful implementation of ARRA to early planning and enhanced transparency, accountability, and oversight requirements, including an intensive risk management strategy.
Ridley noted that not all ARRA projects are small in scope. He testified that states have used ARRA funds for a number of large, complex multi-million dollar projects. Oklahoma is using ARRA funds as part of a $70+ million improvement project on Interstate 244 in downtown Tulsa. The project required closure of the Interstate to facilitate pavement replacement and the replacement of approximately 40 bridges. Overall, Ridley said that in the nearly 10 months since enactment of ARRA, the Oklahoma DOT has paid out more than $240 million to construction contractors.
Ridley said states are encouraged that President Obama is ready to endorse additional funding to "continue modernizing our transportation network as one means to accelerate job growth." The state departments of transportation have identified an additional 9,500 projects valued at $70 billion that could be quickly advanced, creating and sustaining thousands of jobs across rural and urban areas in all states. In closing, Ridley also urged Congress to take timely action to develop "a growing, consistent, long-term federal investment strategy that identifies and considers all possible revenue sources."
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is the "Voice of Transportation" representing State Departments of Transportation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association serving as a catalyst for excellence in transportation.