Recovery Act Impact: Transportation
"We had a number of projects that were ready to go but there was no funding. Stimulus got them moving," said Michael Hartnett, the District 3 Construction Engineer for Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). District 3 roughly covers Worcester County.
Thanks to stimulus, Hartnett said that this has been one of his district's busiest years. "Stimulus pushed us several years ahead of where we were. We've been out for a year straight with stimulus projects," he said.
The stimulus program also created jobs in the area. "Ten guys working today in our district were hired with stimulus funds," said Hartnett. It also kept contractors and their employees busy, at a time when private jobs were drying up.
Nearly $40 million in stimulus funds are being spent in Worcester County with many of the road projects completed or near completion. "Many of our projects are ahead of schedule," said Hartnett.
Route 146 in Sutton, the Providence Highway, was in bad shape because of the many trucks that use the road in and out of Rhode Island, in addition to the tremendous population growth the area has experienced over the past two decades. A stimulus grant of $9 million enabled MassDOT to pave 10 miles of this roadway.
Similarly, Route 20 in Shrewsbury was in rough shape until a stimulus grant of $2.7 million enabled MassDOT to repave three and a half miles of this well-traveled road.
In Southbridge, Route 169 goes right up to the Connecticut border and winds through commercial and residential districts. A stimulus grant of $2 million helped fund the resurfacing and widening of this formerly narrow stretch of road. "The road was in very poor condition," said Paul Thompson, the resident engineer of Southbridge.
Thompson said the job is way ahead of schedule and will most likely finish in the summer of 2011, nine months early. According to Hartnett, the old millage on the road was ground up and recycled and will become part of the new roadway.
"We took a substandard road and made it into one that is much safer to drive and will last longer," he said.