PUBLIC WORKS News Service-The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission gave approval today to the final list of transportation projects to be funded by economic recovery funds. The transportation improvements are expected to directly or indirectly support 22,000 jobs.
"This final list of economic stimulus projects is all about putting Missourians to work fast," Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn said. "The process for choosing these projects was very complex, and it took a great deal of effort to meet all of the legislative and federal provisions, plus the MHTC funding distribution policies. The end result is a fair distribution of projects throughout the state that will support jobs and boost our economy."
The project package totals $577 million, slightly more than the $525 million MoDOT has left to spend. That's because the department built in additional money to ensure it will qualify for redistribution of funds from other states if they become available. The list of projects and a map showing their location can be found at www.modot.org.
"Our project bids have been coming in 10 percent to 15 percent under budget," Rahn said. "We built an extra 10 percent into the project list to make sure we could go after funds that other states don't spend. Even if those funds don't become available, we're committed to delivering every project on the list."
MoDOT first had to meet the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act when selecting the projects. The act says 50 percent of the stimulus funds must be obligated by June 30, and all money must be obligated by March 2, 2010.
The projects also had to meet all federal regulations, including environmental clearances, contracting requirements and air quality rules. In addition, they had to be included in a long-range, regional and statewide transportation improvement program.
Once those requirements were met, ARRA said consideration should be given to projects that could be completed within three years. It also said consideration should be given to projects that would maximize job creation and economic benefit. Additionally, it said that improvements located in economically distressed areas should be considered.
The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission's funding formula also dictated which projects were selected. Under the formula, a certain amount of money must go to taking care of the state's existing highway system and the rest to major projects.
The agency held public briefings around the state on March 10 to share project information with citizens.
"We've worked very hard to make the process of selecting these projects open and transparent," Rahn said. "In this case, we had additional challenges we don't typically have when identifying project priorities. In the end, we came up with a balanced project list that will put people to work and make our transportation system better and safer."
The next step will be for MoDOT to put the projects out for bid. The department already has 37 economic stimulus projects totaling about $91 million under way.