For the first time in many months, I finally have cause to feel good about two very important things. Those two things are employment and construction. The Obama administration's stimulus package is already beginning to create meaningful chatter in government chambers across the nation. State and local governments are feverishly making decisions about where they shall invest their individual shares of nearly $50 billion which the stimulus bill is providing for local transportation improvements.
A recent article from The New York Times, gives us a good overview of how some of these local transportation improvement funds are being allocated. Each state is free to use the money in whatever manner it deems appropriate. For some states, it has been decided that the money shall be used to fast-forward a few high profile projects, such as the rebuilding of a bridge or the digging of an important new tunnel. In other locales, the money will be put to less glamorous uses, including pothole filling, painting, and the installation of guardrails. Of course, in some regions there are disagreements about exactly how these funds should be spent.
To me, it makes no difference how the money gets invested, just so long as it gets put to work with as little red tape as possible, and as fast as it possibly can. Transportation projects pay good solid wages to good blue collar workers. The Obama administration hopes that as many as 400,000 such people shall be blessed by this influx of infrastructure capital. I find that number a fairly lofty estimate, but even if half that many people get put to work through this effort, it's all good in my eyes.
One thing is for certain: If this investment of nearly $50 billion is in addition to the similar amount which the federal government annually hands down for transportation projects, the effects shall clearly be felt at the grass roots level. Not only that, but people will get a first hand look at how their money is being put to work. Each one of us should feel a bit of pride as we witness what could be the first step in rebuilding our nation. Please, slow down as you drive through construction zones, and give a little wave to the people who you are helping to put back to work.
WalletPop will be breaking down the stimulus funding for you, industry by industry, to pin-point where exactly jobs will be created with your tax-dollars. Please watch this space for more Stimulate US stories!
Stimulate US: Where the rubber hits the road