Maryland: Stimulus

A look at the first ARRA (Recovery Stimulus) project funded in the U.S., and a talk with a few of the people whose jobs were rescued.

The First ARRA Project: Shovels Hit the Road

Washington DC, March 3, 2009

President Obama announces the first highway project to receive funding under the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, calling it the "most sweeping economic recovery plan in history... to put Americans back to work and put money in their pockets." As reported on CNN, Secretary of Labor Ray LaHood revealed that work would begin on a project to resurface Maryland State Highway 650, "a very busy road that has not been fully repaired in 17 years."

Following the Money

Montgomery County, Maryland, April 2009

As those of us at the Learning Worlds Institute became interested in telling stories about how communities and workers would be affected by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we decided to investigate this further.

We learned that the contractor awarded the project, now designated as New Hampshire Avenue Project 650, was American Infrastructure, and contacted their Director of Government Affairs, Mark P. Compton, to find out more information. He put us in contact with Charlie Gischler and David Buck from the Maryland State Highway Administration, who connected us to the folks actually handling the project in Montgomery County.

New Hampshire Avenue: Waiting Until the Rain Stops

Montgomery County, April 2009

This section of New Hampshire Avenue in Montgomery County, Maryland would be the first location in the country where ARRA-funded "shovels would hit the road."

We learned that work had been held up a few weeks, as road construction and repair in this area of the country usually stops during April, which is rainy season there.

So we arranged to come back when the repair job resumed in May.

Back to Work: Shovels Hit the Road in May

Project manager and foreman, American Infrastructure

We returned to the site of the New Hampshire Avenue project a month later, in May.  

We found the road repair well under way.  We were able to interview several of the American Infrastructure supervisors and workers, about the project and the stimulus program.

Jobs and Infrastructure

Working on safety improvements to the highway margin

The workers were repaving this stretch of busy highway, and adding necessary safety features.

We learned that the project now supported 60 jobs, and enabled American Infrastructure to bring back some employees who had been laid off.

The workers and supervisors were all glad to finally be back to work.

Communicating the Message: Creating Jobs Is Good

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Learning Worlds Institute Video: New Hampshire Avenue, Maryland Job 650

We did several interviews and shot video of the construction.