Feds approve final Virginia stimulus projects

Virginia completed its final obligation for the commonwealth’s $694.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) highway funding today. This means that the Federal Highway Administration has approved all 128 Virginia transportation pavement, bridge, and congestion management projects. The milestone comes six days before the federal deadline for this work to be completed.

In February, Virginia completed its initial obligation of stimulus funding ahead of schedule, spreading its available stimulus funding to cover more than 100 projects. As projects were advertised for construction, many bids came back below estimates. These savings could be put to use in Virginia if the Commonwealth identified additional eligible projects on which to use it. States were given until Sept. 27 to completely obligate all available funding or risk losing it.

“Since the beginning of this administration, we have worked extremely hard with the Virginia Department of Transportation, localities, elected officials and our federal partners to ensure that every available dollar is used to benefit Virginia’s motorists and create jobs,” said Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton. “Virginia has been criticized for being slow to spend stimulus dollars, but we have maintained all along that we would meet or exceed every deadline to put this money to work. We recognized early on that given Virginia’s commitment to accept the funding, we had an obligation to ensure these monies were used in the manner intended. We not only met deadlines, but completed our work ahead of schedule and before many other states.”

Virginia has followed a transparent and open process in selecting projects for ARRA funding involving local, regional, state, and federal officials as well as the public.

“Through careful work, partnership with our contractors, and sound fiscal management, we have used all available stimulus money,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Greg Whirley. “Wherever we could identify savings or contract bids came in below estimates, we were able to free up money and move it to other transportation needs.”

VDOT has been aggressively managing the influx of stimulus funding while strategically allocating its regular federal funding. By doing so, Virginia is poised to collect additional obligation authority from the federal government. This means Virginia could be given additional federal funding forfeited by states that were unable to spend their allotments.

The ARRA legislation was signed into law by President Obama on Feb.17, 2009. Virginia received a total of $694.5 million in highway funding from ARRA to invest in improving our transportation system.

Virginia’s priorities in selecting projects were to address deficient pavements, structurally deficient bridges and much-needed highway capacity and rail improvements to improve the economic competitiveness of the Commonwealth and offer safe, reliable transportation options for all Virginians.

ARRA transportation project information can be found at http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/stimulus_info.asp.

For complete lists of Virginia’s transportation stimulus projects, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/news/resources/Statewide/arra092110/arra_state.pdf for projects approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and http://www.virginiadot.org/news/resources/Statewide/arra092110/arra_mpo.pdf for projects approved by local metropolitan planning organizations.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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