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PennDOT plans to start $1 billion of work with stimulus money this year

PennDOT wants more than $1 billion in road and bridge construction projects, slated for federal stimulus money, to begin within six months — work that could employ up to 30,000 people, Secretary of Transportation Allen Biehler said Monday.

The highway agency will use $1.026 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to work on 399 bridges and 608 miles of roads statewide, combining it with $1.8 billion worth of projects on the books for this year to create the busiest construction season on record, Biehler said.

The stimulus bill requires that the money be allocated to projects within a year, but Biehler said PennDOT aims to have as many as possible begun by September and finished by the end of 2010.

"Our intention is to start work within six months, so we can really jump-start the economy," Biehler said.

Federal planners estimate that every $1 billion in transportation spending creates about 30,000 jobs in fields including construction, planning and manufacturing raw materials, he said.

"This will allow us to bring a lot of people back to work who, in the absence of this (money), would have been basically gone forever," said Robert Latham, executive vice president of the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, which represents the building and construction industry.

Nearly 6,000 bridges in Pennsylvania are considered "structurally deficient," with deterioration to one or more major components, but only 105 will be fixed with stimulus money, Biehler said. Work on the rest could not begin in time, he said.

Among Pittsburgh-area projects getting stimulus money:

• Second phase of rehabilitation work on the Liberty Tunnels, $12.5 million

• Relocating railroad tracks, rebuilding a bridge pier and demolishing buildings near the 31st Street Bridge in preparation for widening Route 28, $45.9 million

• Reconfiguring the interchange where Route 2 230 meets Route 60 in Robinson and North Fayette, $13 million

• Restoring Fort Duquesne Bridge, $30.5 million

• Rehabilitating Rochester Bridge carrying Route 51 over Beaver River in Rochester and Bridgewater, $20 million

• Replacing Harmony Junction Bridge over Connoquenessing Creek and B&O Railroad in Jackson in Butler County, $8.5 million

• Patching Interstate 79 between Canonsburg and Allegheny County line, $16.9 million

• Restoring Route 30 in Hempfield, $4.1 million

Additional Information:

On the Web

A complete list of the state's stimulus-funded projects by county can be found under 'Announcements' here.

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