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Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore a Stimulus Success Story; Project to Add Desperately Needed Highway Capacity

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood discusses the nation's second largest highway project supported by the Recovery Act.

Cross-posted from the Department of Transportation's blog.

Yesterday, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez went to Oakland to mark the beginning of what he called "a fascinating and critical phase" of the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore project.

You may remember a blog post earlier in the year marking the launch of this important addition to the Caldecott Tunnel. Well, this week, with the groundwork complete, the crew brings out the big machine--a road header--and the actual tunnel bore begins.

If you're a fan of transportation infrastructure, you know that's when things get interesting. Because a road header is not just any machine. It's a 130-ton rock-crunching, rotating cutting head built at the end of a boom that will push it though the bedrock of the Berkeley Hills.

Administrator Mendez (right) stands beneath the road header with project manager Bill Monahan.

But, for the many workers hired to prepare the site for the tunnel bore, it's been plenty interesting since January simply because they've had jobs.

And those hundreds of jobs would not have been created without the American Recovery And Reinvestment Act. You see, the Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore, the nation's second largest highway project supported by the Recovery Act, is just one of many good transportation projects across the country that had been in the works for years but languished without adequate funding.

As Administrator Mendez said yesterday:

"It took the Recovery Act to provide the final piece of the funding puzzle and bring a project that’s been talked about for many years--even dreamed about by Bay Area commuters--and make it a reality. And, most importantly, there are lots of men and women who would not have jobs if not for the Recovery Act."

Look who's driving! Administrator Mendez turns on the road header and begins the fourth bore.

He's got that right. Already the Recovery Act has been responsible for more than 2.5 million jobs. And not just jobs, but also paychecks and increased demand for construction equipment and materials that ripple through communities boosting suppliers, grocery stores, and other businesses.

As President Obama said in June, we are truly "rebuilding America's economy by rebuilding America." 

This summer, the Caldecott Tunnel bore--which will reduce congestion for 160,000 drivers every day and trim the greenhouse gas emissions associated with being stuck in traffic--is one of more than 11,000 road projects under way supported by stimulus money. In California alone, we have more than 450 projects under way this Recovery Summer, and every single one of those projects is employing good people in good jobs.

Ask the tens of thousands of transportation construction workers whose jobs would not have existed without stimulus money what they think of the stimulus, and they will tell you the real story: the Recovery Act has moved America's economy in the right direction.

To see for yourself, please visit our YouTube channel and watch our Voices of the Recovery Act series. You'll hear people like Bill Montgomery and Rhea Mayolo tell in their own words how the Recovery Act is working for America.

Ray LaHood is Secretary of Transportation