Obama hails beginning of new highway construction

WASHINGTON (AP) That's greater than the number of jobs the Big Three automakers -- General Motors, Ford and Chrysler -- lost in the past three years, Obama said on his first visit as president to the Department of Transportation.

"Transportation projects that were once on hold are now starting up again as part of the largest new investment in America's infrastructure since President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system," the Obama said.

Outlining his plans for department employees, Obama said that just two weeks after he signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law on Feb. 17, "we are seeing shovels hit the ground."

States can begin using their share of the $28 billion road-building investment immediately, he said.

More than 200 highway construction projects also will be launched in the coming weeks, Obama said.

Of the 3.5 million jobs that Obama expects his economic recovery plan to save or create over the next two years, 400,000 of them will be targeted toward rebuilding the nation's infrastructure -- roads, bridges, schools, levees, dams, and commuter buses and trains, Obama said.

The president referred to it as a "21st century infrastructure."

"That's the cause of my presidency and I need it to be your cause as well," Obama told the assembled workers.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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