June 8, 2009 By Chad Vander Veen
The first week of June marked the commencement of a number of new transportation projects across the nation. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is directing more than $27 billion to state and local agencies for transportation improvement projects. The type of transportation projects ARRA is funding run the gamut, from former pipedreams like high-speed rail to decidedly low-tech, but critical, ventures such as highway resurfacing.
Seen by the Obama administration as vital components of economic recovery, transportation infrastructure funds are being delivered to state and local agencies with a requirement that the money be spent within 120 days of receipt. For state and county transportation departments around the country, this taxpayer-funded windfall is breathing new life into many "shovel-ready" projects that had seemingly withered on the fiscal vine.
What follows is a partial list highlighting some recent state transportation spending activity.
Alabama: $12.2 million for runway and terminal rehabilitation at 10 state airports.
Arizona: $7.3 million for bridge rehabilitation, pavement improvement and fence replacement.
Colorado: $11.5 million to resurface 24 miles of Interstate 70.
Florida: $65.3 million has been approved for airport improvement projects; $883.5 million has been assigned to 105 bridge and highway projects.
Indiana: $22 million for 17 projects, including relocating a bridge in Harrison County and the construction of a boat dock in the city of Delphi.
Kansas: $82.3 million for interchange reconstruction; $64.2 million to expand Kansas state highway 61 to four lanes.
Nebraska: $23 million for local agencies to create or improve mass transit options.
New York: $7.7 million for a bridge replacement in Onondaga County.
Pennsylvania: $30.2 million for rural and intercity bus service; $9.3 million for the rehabilitation of the Elizabethtown Train Station; and $283,000 for bus service scheduling software in Carbon County.
South Carolina: $43.7 million to resurface 60 county roads, install thermoplastic pavement markers, and install light-emitting diode signal lights in several counties.
Wyoming: $4.3 million to replace 23 miles of snow fencing along Interstate 80.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.