CUMBERLAND, Va. | On an average day, 20 cars rumble over the tiny Rock Creek Bridge and onto the gravel road in this rural county west of Richmond.
The Battery Hill Lane bridge in far southern Nelson County gets about 70.
Both are scheduled to be repaired later this year with some of the first payouts under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan to get the economy moving by creating jobs, including updating bridges and other infrastructure.
The Virginia Department of Transportation plans to spend $28.2 million in recovery funds repairing the Rock Creek and Battery Hill Lane bridges, along with 61 other small and rural bridges throughout the state that get an average of about 1,200 cars per day.
VDOT officials say their top priority in choosing projects was how quickly they could get started. Those selected don’t require personal property transfers or environmental approvals that can slow down larger projects that might have had a larger impact on traffic.
“The stimulus package was meant to get the economy moving quickly,” said VDOT spokesman Jeff Caldwell. “We’re trying very hard to select projects to be built that are ‘shovel-ready’ and could move forward.”
Mr. Obama established the shovel-ready requirement, saying the recovery plan - which he called “the largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s” - should target projects ready to begin within 90 to 120 days of being funded.
Mr. Obama also imposed a “use it or lose it” policy. States were told they would lose their money if they failed to utilize it quickly.
But the “shovel-ready” requirement has limited what can be done with Recovery Act funding and discouraged localities from undertaking some more complicated projects, said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
“One of the difficulties in the stimulus is that in the interest of shovel-ready, by definition, you’re not necessarily tackling the weightier challenges facing the country and the states,” he said. “Big, hairy challenges that have been hanging out there awhile [won’t get resolved] because they’re big, hairy challenges.”
Some county officials say they would rather see larger projects affecting more traffic get funded before the small ones.
“The bridge projects are certainly worthwhile projects. We’re glad to get those,” said Joseph S. Paxton, county administrator in northwest Rockingham County, although he would prefer that roads to a new hospital on Route 253 get paved first.
“What we really need to get is the [Route 253] funding,” he said.
VDOT plans to spend about $1.5 million repairing six bridges in Rockingham County. The traffic count on those bridges ranges from 60 to 6,100 cars per day.
Mr. Paxton said that while he would prefer other projects had been funded, the bridges are still important to rural areas.View Entire Story
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
One man’s perspective. Exploration and commentary designed to challenge the conventional thinking of day on the political issues affecting our nation.
Abhishek Seth re-considers the power of PR, Issue Placement, the world at large, and the issues at hand.
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc