Oral Statement - Jeff Paniati
June 25, 2009
Chairman Oberstar, Ranking Member Mica, and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Federal Highway Administration's progress in implementing the Recovery Act.
Through the Recovery Act, FHWA is playing a key role in creating jobs. The Administration estimates that the highway portion alone of the Recovery Act will create or sustain close to 300,000 jobs by 2012. It is providing a lifeline for Americans who work in construction and have been especially hard hit by the recession.
On March 3, President Obama and Vice President Biden joined Secretary LaHood at DOT to announce that $26.6 billion was available to States for highway investment, and within hours of the President's announcement, FHWA began to approve projects. As of yesterday, FHWA Division Offices have authorized more than 5,000 projects in all 50 States, DC, and the territories for a total of $15.7 billion, which represents 59 percent of total funds available. I am proud to say that this would not have happened without the strong commitment of FHWA employees, who have worked hard for many months-even before the Act was passed-to ensure that we would be ready to implement the legislation swiftly and efficiently.
In passing the Recovery Act, Congress emphasized the need to rapidly infuse these funds into the economy, requiring that 50 percent of the funds apportioned to a State must be obligated under a project agreement by June 29. I am very pleased to report that all States have met the target at least 10 days in advance of the deadline, as the Administration will announce today. We are also hearing good news from States that projects are running ahead of schedule and under budget. By stretching Recovery Act dollars, States are able to complete additional projects and create even more jobs.
Project approvals are only part of the story-we need to get projects underway to put people back to work. As of June 19, there are more than 1,500 highway projects underway in 45 States, DC, and on Federal Lands using more than $5 billion in Recovery Act funds. We estimate that these projects alone will yield over 50,000 job years.
FHWA is also distributing $550 million for roads on Federal and tribal lands. This funding is creating jobs and improving access to our national treasures. For instance, we have advanced projects such as the reconstruction of the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana's Glacier National Park and the rehabilitation of roadways within Yosemite National Park in California.
The Recovery Act is working for America.
Every new project we obligate is a signal for States to advertise contracts, and for contractors to begin hiring workers and ordering materials like steel, asphalt, and concrete. We are making investments in projects that will save lives. We are making investments in our highway system that will help it operate more efficiently and effectively, while moving the people and goods we need to keep the economy healthy.
It is not only important to get the money out quickly-we must get it out in the right way. The agency continues to focus on reporting and management of the risks associated with such a large investment of dollars in transportation. The public needs to know what their money is buying, and FHWA has moved forward aggressively to fulfill the President's commitment to transparency and accountability. Our Recovery Act progress is on the front page of our website and is updated every day, and we are providing detailed reports through Recovery.gov.
To guide our oversight, we are employing extensive risk management strategies at the local, State, and national levels, including communication and education efforts, and our Division Office and National Review Team are providing oversight. We are monitoring progress and risks by analyzing data we receive to identify trends or problem areas and making real-time corrections as needed.
Successful deployment of highway dollars under the Recovery Act will remain a top priority at FHWA as we continue to work to deliver the Recovery Act funds and get America's economy moving again.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my remarks. I would be happy to answer your questions.