Stimulus money hits the street

U.S. government releases $26.6 billion for highway, bridge construction. Maryland road project among first recipients, creating 60 jobs.

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The White House released its promised cash infusion on Tuesday to strengthen the transportation infrastructure across America, and began to announce the first recipients of the funds.

The U.S. government released $26.6 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to state and local transportation authorities, for the building and rebuilding of roads, highways and bridges.

"President Obama is keeping his promise to the American people and he is doing it ahead of schedule," said Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement, noting that the funds were released eight days sooner than required.

The money was already being put to work on Tuesday. American Infrastructure, a Worcester, Penn.-based recipient of ARRA funds, began a repaving project on Rt. 650 in Maryland, according to the company and the government. The project is in Montgomery County, near Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Mark Compton, director of government affairs for American Infrastructure, said his company received $2.1 million in federal funds, by way of the Maryland State Highway Administration. The money will be used to repave and add safety features to a stretch of the highway.

Compton said the cash infusion is the "catalyst" to create 60 jobs, including bringing back some employees who had been laid off. He hopes that the workers can be retained beyond this six-month project.

"We'll continue to bid, so the goal is to get more projects to keep those guys working, so they can roll off that project onto another," said Compton.

The DOT said more than 100 transportation projects, receiving some $750 million in ARRA funds, have been identified and can begin work within one month.

The $26.6 billion in highway funds is aimed to generate 150,000 jobs through the end of 2010. The median pay for these jobs is $18.31 an hour, according to the White House.

This is part of President Obama's $787 billion economic stimulus plan, intended to "save or create" at least 3.5 million jobs through 2010. To top of page

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