Washington, D.C. -An Illinois asphalt contractor whose company was awarded contracts for eight new transportation improvement projects that helped save 260 jobs and create 30 new ones told Congress that the economic stimulus law is working as intended.
Charles Gallagher, president of the family-owned Gallagher Asphalt Corporation in Thorton, IL, testified on behalf of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) at an Oct. 1 House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee hearing on implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
"Without a doubt, the stimulus has helped keep my company afloat during one of the most difficult economic periods our industry has ever experienced," Gallagher said. "For that, I would like to thank the members of the committee for your efforts to secure as much transportation investment as possible in the recovery act."
Citing Federal Highway Administration data, Gallagher told the committee the states are meeting the law's timelines for obligating their transportation funds, and that nearly 4,000 ARRA-financed projects valued at $11 billion are now under construction all across America.
The impact of the ARRA is even more evident when looking at new highway contract awards, Gallagher said. During the first four months of 2009, state and local transportation departments awarded $2.1 billion fewer contracts for highway and bridge construction projects than during the same months of 2008, reflecting recession-driven cuts to state and local highway funding. Since that time, however, in the period between May and August, the value of new contracts for highways and bridges has exceeded 2008 by almost $4 billion, with the ARRA more than offsetting state and local budgetary difficulties. The additional work has allowed transportation contractors to sustain - and add to - their workforce, he testified.
Gallagher cautioned the stimulus will only provide a short-term economic "shot in the arm." The benefits of the law will phase down quickly after 2010 and the jobs it supported this year and next will begin to disappear.
To sustain and build upon the momentum of the ARRA and reenergize the long-term growth potential of the United States, Gallagher called on Congress to take action soon on a six-year, $500 billion surface transportation investment bill as proposed by the T&I Committee.