This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

Search form

How the Recovery Act is Helping to Modernize Our Transportation System

Assessing the Recovery Act’s impact on our transportation system, seven years after the President signed it into law.

This week, we commemorate the seventh anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), which the President signed into law on February 17, 2009.  Today and tomorrow the Vice President will visit New Orleans, Memphis, and St. Paul to highlight the Recovery Act’s role in restarting job growth and revitalizing our transportation system. You can read more about the Vice President’s trip and the impact of the Recovery Act here.

The Recovery Act provided over $48 billion in job-creating investments in transportation infrastructure, which put people back to work and comprised a significant down payment toward revitalizing our transportation system.  Recovery Act projects:

Improved the Nation’s Roads and Bridges

The Recovery Act initiated more than 13,000 projects through the Federal Highway Administration, improving more than 42,000 miles of road and more than 2,700 bridges. This helped keep construction companies in business and provided jobs to thousands of workers. These projects yielded real impacts for every state in the country. For example:

  • In San Bernardino, California, $128 million in Recovery Act funding was used to reconstruct portions of I-215, as part of a $2 billion project to revitalize an economically distressed city by improving access to local business and connecting economically disadvantaged communities.
  • In Tampa, Florida, the Selmon Expressway Crosstown Connector, a $421 million project, used $105 million in Recovery Act funds to improve freight movement to and from the Port of Tampa, ease congestion for Tampa’s 340,000 drivers and divert hazardous cargo away from local streets.
  • A $50 million investment in Metairie, Louisiana fully funded the I-10/Causeway Boulevard Interchange, reducing congestion and improving access on the primary commuter route between Lake Ponchartrain and New Orleans. The interchange has the highest traffic volume in the state.
  • Michigan used $48 million in Recovery Act funding to fully reconstruct and reconfigure the I-94 interchange in Kalamazoo, add two lanes and update the interchange’s design. The reconstruction will improve safety and has reduced congestion for the 87,000 vehicles that travel I-94 each day.
  • The $37.9 million Recovery Act-funded, Route 112 Safety and Mobility Improvement in Brookhaven, NY, completely renovated 3 miles of NY Route 112. The project improves safety and mobility, provides “green” transportation options, and includes new bike lanes, sidewalks and bus stops to provide a multi-modal transportation solution.
  • Pennsylvania used $70 million in Recovery Act funds to rehabilitate and reinforce the Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia. The double-decked bridge carries 83,000 vehicles daily across the Schuylkill River. The project will improve the bridge’s structural integrity and will extend its life.
  • In Texas, $250 million in Recovery Act Funds supported the Dallas-Fort Worth Connector, a $1 billion project that reconstructed three major highway interchanges, increased capacity at five majority arterial crossings, and added four managed lanes. The project has reduced congestion along the SH 121/SH 114 corridor, improved access to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and improved freight and cargo movement.
  • The I-5, Port of Tacoma Road Interchange, Port of Tacoma Road to Pierce/King County Line in Washington used $35 million in Recovery Act funds as part of a $70 million investment in widening I-5 to provide new HOV lanes. The project has provided congestion relief, an alternative transportation mode via HOV lanes, and provides real-time traffic information for travelers.

Led to expanded and safer public transit options

The Recovery Act supported investments of nearly $8.78 billion in transit systems across the country, helping to purchase more than 11,500 buses and 665 rail cars, construct or rehabilitate more than 850 transit facilities nationwide, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Examples of these investments include:

  • $100 million to work directly with public transportation agencies on new strategies for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, dependence on oil, and energy use within transit operations through the Transit Investments in Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) program. This program supported investments like the purchase hybrid buses for the Montgomery Area Transit System in Alabama.
  • Improvements to Massachusetts Bay Rapid Transit Network and Ashmont Station. The $54.1 million Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority project provided funding for operating assistance and state of good repair improvements to MBTA’s Rapid Transit Network; $13.9 million to fund improvements to Ashmont Station, and $90,000 to purchase an enhanced security camera system.
  • An investment of $28.4 million in Denver Union Station, an innovative public-private partnership that has leveraged a range of funding and financing tools, in addition to their Recovery Act grant, to redevelop a rail station in downtown Denver into a multimodal transportation hub connecting passenger rail, vehicle parking, commuter rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, regularly scheduled bus service, bicycle and pedestrian access, and other related transportation services. Residential, retail, and office space surround the station.  

Made a significant down-payment in American High-Speed Rail

The Recovery Act invested $8 billion in high speed rail, the largest American investment of its kind. The Recovery Act invested in 75 projects in 24 states and the District of Columbia – or nearly 150 projects in 35 states when combined with subsequent appropriations. Through these investments, thousands of corridor miles of track are being constructed or improved, more than 30 stations are being upgraded, and new passenger cars and locomotives are being procured. These investments are reducing trip times, adding frequencies, improving safety and reliability, modernizing stations, upgrading equipment, and building connections along key corridors. For example:

  • In Michigan, $347 million, including $197 million in Recovery Act funds, will allow trains to travel at 110 mph for more than three-quarters of the Chicago – Detroit corridor, resulting in a 30 minute reduction in trip time.
  • In Illinois, $1.3 billion, including $1.1 billion in Recovery Act funds, will institute 110 mph service on a portion of the Chicago –St. Louis corridor, allowing trains to make the trip from end to end in 4 hours 45 minutes, a 55-minute reduction in trip time. Importantly, $155 million along this corridor will support implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.
  • In Washington, $752 million is supporting improvements to add two, daily round-trip trains between Seattle and Portland, for a total of seven daily. The improved Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor reduces highway and freight railroad congestion while improving rail options between the United States and Canada.
  • In North Carolina, $520 million will add two round trips between Charlotte –Raleigh, for a total of five daily. Other improvements related to the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor will lay the groundwork for investments that expand service and reduce travel time north to Richmond and Washington.
  • In Illinois, the Recovery Act invested $126 million to allow two busy rail lines in Chicago to cross each other on an elevated viaduct instead of at-grade, eliminating lengthy wait times and opening up space to build more tracks in the future. Each year, traffic through the Englewood Junction resulted in more than 7,500 hours of passenger delay. Today, the 68 commuter, 50 freight, and 14 intercity trains can pass without interference, resulting in better on-time performance across the network. The flyover is part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program, which consists of 70 projects designed to collectively reduce the negative impacts of congestion in the busy Chicago area.
  • In California, nearly $3.9 billion -- including nearly $3 billion in Recovery Act funds – have been invested to build the first leg of the California High-Speed Rail system. This generational project will transform travel patterns and mobility options in the State of California. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is constructing the System in three phases with construction starting in the Central Valley and expanding to connect San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim by 2029. When service begins, a mix of express, local, and limited-stop trains is designed to provide several trains per hour between all possible station pairs with frequent, non-stop service provided between major markets.
  • Along the Northeast Corridor, nearly $1 billion has been awarded for improvements along the NEC mainline between Washington, D.C. – New York City – Boston. This includes $450 million in Recovery Act funds to increase capacity, reliability, and speed along one of the NEC’s most heavily used segments from New Brunswick – Trenton, NJ.
  • In Vermont, $52.7 million supported track, signal, and bridge improvements on the Vermonter. The project installed approximately 150 miles of new rail across the state, replaced 130,000 rail ties, and upgraded or replaced 38 switches and 46 rail crossings. In addition to improving safety along the corridor, the track and signal upgrades reduced travel time by approximately 30 minutes.

Invested in runways, airports, and Air Traffic Control upgrades

The Recovery Act included about $1.3 billion administered by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), supporting nearly 800 projects across the country. These projects protected and created jobs through investments including grants to airports, investments in power systems, air traffic control infrastructure, and navigation and landing equipment.  For example:

  • In Oakland, California, $35 million supported construction of a new Air Traffic Control Tower, replacing two towers at the Metropolitan Oakland International Airport that had been jointly controlling air traffic since 1962. In Palm Springs, California, $14.5 million supported construction a new Air Traffic Control Tower, replacing a facility from 1967.
  • In Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, an investment of $14 million supported a new Air Traffic Control Tower and base Radar Control building, which made the airport safer by improving the line of site for air traffic controllers and more energy efficient thanks to green materials that were used to reduce heating and ventilation costs.
  • At airports across America, runway rehabilitation through the Recovery Act improved functionality and preserved the safety and capacity of aircraft operations. Examples of these investments, through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), included $14 million at Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia to construct an apron; $12.5 million at General Edward Lawrence Logan International, Boston, Massachusetts to rehabilitate a runway; $2.6 million for the North Las Vegas, Nevada Remove Obstructions; $3.5 million for Nashville to rehabilitate apron, Tennessee; $15 million to rehabilitate a portion of an aircraft parking apron at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; and $15 million at John F. Kennedy International Airport, among others.

Supported game-changing investments through the innovative, multi-modal TIGER program

The Recovery Act created the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), a competitive grant program that encourages innovation and regional collaboration. Since 2009, and through seven rounds of investment, TIGER has provided nearly $4.6 billion to 381 projects, including 134 projects to support rural and tribal communities. An eighth round of funding will soon be made available, pursuant to the FY 2016 Appropriations.  The initial $1.5 billion TIGER program, included in the Recovery Act, kicked off this successful program with over 60 projects across the country. These included a range of innovative, cross-cutting investments, such as:

  • A $105 million grant for the Crescent Corridor Intermodal Freight Rail Project. The Crescent Corridor is a $224 million, major intermodal freight program centered on the continued development of Norfolk Southern’s rail intermodal route from the Gulf Coast to the Mid-Atlantic. This project constructs two new intermodal facilities— in Memphis, TN and Birmingham, AL – both of which are critical components of the full corridor plan and can handle export and import traffic through nearby U.S. ports. Construction of these new facilities includes pad and support tracks, trailer and container parking areas, lead tracks, and related ancillary buildings and features.
  • As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a $45 million grant was awarded to the Regional Transportation Authority of the City of New Orleans for an extension of the New Orleans Streetcar. The new streetcar extension was constructed to create streetcar service from Canal Street to Union Passenger Terminal along Loyola Avenue. This extension provided improved connectivity between local transit services along Canal Street and the Union Passenger Terminal. The Terminal is a major southern hub for Amtrak, with three trains serving the station. The Loyola Avenue corridor is home to significant commercial and business activity, including the city’s energy, government, healthcare and financial sectors in addition to many attractions and entertainment.
    • In addition to the Streetcar project, New Orleans also benefited from a $16.7 million TIGER grant ($26,132,191 Total Project Cost) in 2011 to support the 16-acre intermodal construction project at the Port of New Orleans. The overall project consist of two components: a 12-acre freight intermodal rail terminal and resurfacing and fortifying a 4-acre storage yard that is used for ultra-heavy project cargoes. The Port of New Orleans is working to reap the benefits of the reconfigured rail yard by increasing the intermodal transport of freight from truck to rail. The new yard improvements will reduce transit times for the movement of cargo from one mode to another. These efficiencies will result in greater volumes of cargo and containers moving through the port.
  • An investment of $33.8 million in a modern streetcar for Tucson, Arizona. The 3.9 mile, nearly $200 million project, which began service in 2014, provides additional transit capacity and service to the area, including improved access to low-income areas and zero-car households that rely on transit. The streetcar also connects the city’s major activity centers, including the Arizona Health Sciences Center, the University of Arizona main campus, the Main Gate retail/entertainment area, the 4th Avenue retail/entertainment area, Downtown Tucson, the El Rio Community Health Center, and the Tucson Empowerment Zone.
  • A $20.2 million grant for Otay Mesa Port-of-Entry I-805/SR-905 Interchange, in California, part of project worth nearly half a billion.  The Otay Mesa Port-of-Entry I-805/SR-905 Interchange project creates a critical interchange linking I-805 in San Diego to the new SR-905 highway. It helps to finalize a 6-lane highway link to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry at the Mexican border, with reduced grades and improved shoulders. International freight uses the new highway, instead of using heavily congested Otay Mesa Road, to access the largest freight border crossing between California and Mexico. The completion of this Interstate connection reduces congestion at the border on a major international freight route. The project improves efficiency and reliability in the movement of goods and services and reduces border wait times.
  • An Indianapolis Bicycle & Pedestrian Network, which completes the eight-mile urban bicycle and pedestrian network in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. The trail connects residents and visitors to every significant arts, cultural, heritage, sports and entertainment venue in downtown Indianapolis. A $20.5 million Recovery Act grant supported $62.5 million in total project cost.
  • Safety improvements for US-491 Safety Improvements, supporting Navajo Nation. A TIGER grant of $31 million supported a $147 million safety improvement initiative, consisting of upgrades to US-491, the primary north-south highway in a rural area of northwest New Mexico, connecting the local Navajo Nation to other parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and the Four Corners area.
  • A grant of nearly $49.5 million to support an $86.7 million, multimodal bridge replacement in Oklahoma.  The I-244 Multimodal Bridge Replacement project replaces one of two structurally deficient I-244 bridges over the Arkansas River, which had poor sufficiency ratings, high maintenance costs, and excessive lane closures due to maintenance activities. The reconstructed bridge accommodates four lanes of highway traffic, high-speed intercity and commuter rail, light rail, and pedestrian and bicycle traffic. These bridge enhancements expand passenger-carrying capacity and constitute Tulsa’s first multimodal crossing.
  • Improvements to US-18 - South Dakota. This $28.6 million rural project, supported by a $10 million TIGER grant, reconstructed and resurfaced a deteriorating 15.6 mile segment of US-18 in Oglala and Pine Ridge, SD, which are in one of the poorest regions of the country. Prior to construction, this segment of road had an accident rate more than 2.5 times that of South Dakota’s average rate.
  • An investment of $98 million in the National Gateway Freight Rail Corridor, supporting Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. The $183 million, National Gateway Project is a package of rail infrastructure and intermodal terminal projects that enhance transportation service options along three major freight rail corridors, owned and operated by CSX, through the Midwest and along the Atlantic coast. The improvements, including increased vertical clearances, allow trains to carry double-stacked containers, increase freight capacity, and make the corridor more marketable to major East Coast ports and shippers. The Recovery Act investment completes the first section of the corridor, from Northwest Ohio to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, through West Virginia and Maryland.
  • St. Paul Union Depot Multi-Modal Transit and Transportation Hub, in Minnesota. The St. Paul Union Depot Multi-Modal Transit and Transportation Hub project renovates and reactivates St. Paul’s historic Union Depot to provide an efficient, sustainable, and expandable multi- modal rail and transit hub. The project co-locates Amtrak, intercity bus carriers, local bus operations, light rail services, taxis, and bicycle accommodations. The depot is in the heart of downtown St. Paul and its redevelopment promotes economic growth and creates a vibrant, multi-modal transportation center that can accommodate future intercity, commuter, and high speed rail services. A $35 million TIGER grant contributed to an overall project cost of about $237.5 million.
  • Wind energy and surface transportation upgrades for a port project in Rhode Island. The Quonset Business Park is a 3,160 acre multimodal industrial and commercial facility on Narraganset Bay in Rhode Island comprised of two former Navy bases. The park includes four modes of transportation, and has 168 tenants with 8,800 employees. The Quonset Wind Energy & Surface Transportation Project provides pier maintenance, rail improvements, and road reconstruction, which improve freight transportation at the port, achieve a renewed state of good repair, and increase port capacity. The project also improves access to industrial properties being marketed to alternative energy producers, particularly offshore wind, which has helped to increase energy independence. A $22.3 million TIGER grant contributed to a nearly $36.5 million project.

Assisted capital and infrastructure improvements at small shipyards

The Maritime Administration received $100 million of Recovery Act funds for the Small Shipyard Grant Program (SSG) to provide assistance to small shipyards for capital and infrastructure improvements to facilitate the efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality of domestic ship construction, conversion or repair. Funding supported impacts including construction of new drydocks, purchase of shipyard equipment, and training of new employees through apprenticeship programs that taught welding and other skills.

Victor Mendez is the Deputy Secretary of Transportation.