published Friday, September 18th, 2009

State No. 3 in getting federal stimulus road projects under way

NASHVILLE -- Tennessee ranked No. 3 among states when it comes to getting federal stimulus funds for highway and bridge projects out for bid, put under contract and work actually under way, according to a U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure report issued this month.

Georgia ranked 40th, House staffers found. The report looked at projects being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as of July 31.

Tennessee Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely said in a statement that "many of our staff worked long hours to get these Recovery Act (projects) under way expeditiously to both create jobs and improve our transportation infrastructure. I'm very proud of the work they have done."

The House committee report found Tennessee had put 82.2 percent of its stimulus-funded road and highway projects out for bid, had 81.1 percent under contract and 75.6 percent under way. That comes to an average 78.6 percent, by Transportation Committee staffers' reckoning. Wyoming, which ranked No. 1, had a 94.9 percent average, while Iowa was No. 2 with 80.6 percent.

Tennessee House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Harmon, D-Dunlap, said the state Transportation Department "has done an excellent job. ... I didn't know we were one of the top three in the nation."

Tennessee Transportation Department spokeswoman Julie A. Oaks said the state has now put all but one of its own 195 stimulus-funded projects out to bid. Tennessee got an estimated $570 million in federal funds for roads and bridges. According to state estimates provided to the committee, stimulus-funded projects so far have created or saved 1,700 jobs. Officials have roughly estimated the impact may be as high as 24,000 by the time projects are complete over the next three years.

Ms. Oaks said the department "is working very closely" with Metropolitan Planning Organizations across the state, which are getting stimulus funding of their own, "to get their funds under contract, and we expect them to go to letting with their projects in the near future."

According to the U.S. House report, Georgia as of July 31 had 59.2 percent of its stimulus-funded projects out for bid, 30.2 percent under contract and 15.5 percent under way. That averaged out to 30.1 percent. Alabama ranked 33rd among states with an overall average of 33.3 percent. Hawaii ranked 51st among states and the District of Columbia with an average of 13.3 percent.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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