Agency of Transportation moving forward on 30 projects

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(Host) For weeks, we’ve heard talk about "shovel-ready” projects and the federal stimulus package that will pay for them.

Well, the first installment of that federal transportation money has arrived in Vermont. And state officials say they’re ready to spend it.

VPR’s Sarah Ashworth has more.

(Ashworth) On Tuesday, the state received a little more than 125-million-dollars for use on roads and bridges.  The state must commit at least a third of its money to projects within the next four months.  Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary David Dill says this first deposit is enough for the agency to move forward on its initial list of 30 projects.

(Dill) "We already have eight projects advertised, three more in process now.  So, by the time the legislature gets back, I think we’ll be all set to obligate that criteria of the 120 days."

(Ashworth) When lawmakers return, they will also help decide which additional projects should be funded.  And some hope that the next list will include more municipal-based projects.  Trevor Lashua is with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.

(Lashua) "We’re hopeful for maybe in Phase 2, once we know a little bit more about process and eligibility, and rules and helping to determine what is `shovel ready’ that we can see a few more of those find their way on to any Phase 2 list or subsequent list beyond that."

(Ashworth) But Dill says with so many towns looking for a piece of the stimulus money, it will be hard to satisfy everyone, and still meet the federal requirements.

(Dill) "I think there are over-expectations throughout the state about what this stimulus money’s going to do.  I’m not trying to downplay the stimulus money, it’s very important, both from the job creation perspective and improving transportation infrastructure. But there’s just not that much money that’s going to fix all of our problems."

(Ashworth) Dill says the state can expect to see between 35 and 45 private sector workers hired for every million in stimulus funds that it spends.  And, in the coming weeks, the state also expects to receive an additional $5.6 million stimulus dollars for public transportation projects.

For VPR News, I’m Sarah Ashworth.

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