"Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector – jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit." (President Barak Obama – Feb. 24, 2009)
America’s bridges are falling down, and so are the roads, dams, pipes, and just about everything else making up what’s left of America’s quickly crumbling infrastructure. Why not fix and modernize those things, creating millions of jobs at the same time? The 2009 economic stimulus bill -- the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- provides money for doing just that. Here are some highlights:
Fixing and Upgrading Roads and Bridges
The bill allocates $27.5 billion for modernizing roads and bridges. In December 2008, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials estimated that highway and bridge projects could generate 1.8 million new jobs.
To jump start the job creating, the bill requires the states to obligate at least half of their federal highway and bridge maintenance and improvement funding within 120 days.
Improving Public Transportation Facilities
The stimulus bill sets aside $8.4 billion for construction of new, and improvement of existing commuter and light rail public transit facilities. The government estimates that the states currently have 787 ready-to-go transit projects worth about $16 billion and, of course, creating new jobs. Decreased dependence on foreign oil may be a desired side-effect of these public transit improvements.
Clean Water, Flood Control and Environmental Restoration
The bill provides $19 billion for water pollution prevention, flood control, and environmental restoration. About Guide to Environmental Issues Larry West has provided a detailed breakdown of the environment-related projects funded by the 2009 economic stimulus bill.