Blame traffic delays on federal stimulus

If you're stuck in traffic counting more orange traffic cones this summer, blame the federal stimulus.

Nationwide there are 2,000 stimulus-funded construction projects underway, with another 5,600 approved for bidding, according to a Christian Science Monitor story that quotes the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

While more roads are being closed this summer for construction, the good news is that by the winter those potholes and other problems will be gone.

"We're seeing an intersection of the peak summer driving season -- July and August -- combined with an influx of stimulus-related funding for construction," said Troy Green, a national spokesman for AAA in Washington, in the Monitor story. "It means this summer will probably be busier than normal for road construction."

Here's a video on where some of the federal stimulus money is going to improve roads:

Some states will see more work than others. Utah, Oklahoma and Main plan to have under contract this summer 100% of their highway stimulus funds. Another 15 states plan to have 80% of their funding contracted out this summer.

But that doesn't mean it's necessarily more construction than any other summer, as states have reduced such projects due to budget cutbacks.

"The level of work is no more than the past in the summer -- and in some states less because of a drop in state revenues," said Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.

The good news, Simonson told the Monitor, is that much of the construction this summer will be quick jobs such as filling potholes or repaving sections of highway. Lane closures shouldn't be long.

"The emphasis is on shovel-ready," he said. "So what's being done is quicker than adding a lane or replacing a bridge."

Keep that in mind as you creep along the highway.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at
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