Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that the $473 million that states can now spend on infrastructure projects will go pay for “shovel ready” projects.
“They have to be shovel ready,” LaHood replied to a question from a reporter on a conference call today. “We have to sign off on the project, but we’re not going to take forever to do that.”
Obama and LaHood announced today that they will allow states to access $473 million that was earmarked between 2003 and 2006 but went unspent. The states can now use the money for infrastructure projects.
LaHood expects this plan to have an immediate impact. “I think a lot of these projects will start immediately, I really do,” the Transportation Secretary told The Washington Examiner during the call. “I think thousands of jobs will be created,” he also said, citing the success of the 2009 stimulus — though he cautioned that his estimate will change as state governors generate their lists of projects.
He denied that the administration was making the announcement now in order to help President Obama’s reelection. “We’re in the middle of a construction season,” LaHood said.
The 2009 stimulus was also intended to fund “shovel ready” projects, but that did not succeed as planned. “Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected,” Obama famously joked in 2011.