US Transportation Bill signed at Cat plant

08 May 2008

US: President Bush has signed US Transportation Bill into law. The successor to the 1998 Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA—21) will see US$ 286.5 billion spent on US highway infrastructure over six fiscal years from 2005 to 2009.

The bill covers a huge range of infrastructure spending initiatives, encompassing construction, rehabilitation, road safety, environmental protection and the social impacts of road building. The range and scale of projects authorised for funding within the Act is huge. However, 25 large schemes have been designated as being ‘of national and regional significance,’ with a total spend of US$ 2 billion.

Among the larger of these is the Bakersfield Beltway System in California (US$ 140 million), the O'Hare Bypass in Illinois (US$ 140 million), the I—5 bridge repair and replacement in Oregon (US$ 160 million), the Mississippi River Bridge in Illinois (US$ 160 million) and the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall in Seattle, Washington (US$ 120 million).

The signing took place at Caterpillar's factory in Montgomery, Illinois, US. Caterpillar group president Gerry Shaheen commented, “With this bill, our customers will now have certainty to make business plans and to prepare to get to work on the projects.”

Speaking at the signing, President Bush said, “Our economy depends on us having the most efficient and reliable transportation system in the world. If we want people working in America, we've got to make sure our highways and roads are modern.”

He continued, “This bill is going to help modernise the highway system and improve quality of life for a lot of people.”

Among the other officials present at the signing was House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert. “It is estimated that for every US$ 1 billion we spend on road construction, nearly 48000 jobs are created. With more than 67% of the nation's freight moving on highways, economists believe that our ability to compete internationally is tied to the quality of our infrastructure,” he said.

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