By Lisa Schlichtman
Barry County is one of the communities in Missouri that will benefit immediately from the stimulus package that was signed Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, the state will be using economic stimulus funds to fund a highway project on Highway 60 from Monett to Republic.
The $8.7 million project was awarded to Journagan Construction Company of Springfield and will involve the construction of alternating and intermittent passing lanes along 26 miles of Route 60 from east of Chappell Drive in Monett to Kansas Avenue in Republic. On Tuesday, Journagan crews were already crushing rock to use for the project.
In addition to constructing passing lanes that alternate between the eastbound and westbound lanes, the project will also include resurfacing of the highway and adding edge line and centerline rumble stripes along the route.
"New passing lanes will reduce congestion and make Route 60 safer," said Southwest District Engineer Becky Balz. "Southern Missouri is growing, and this highway carries a lot of commuters."
According to Balz, the new lanes will be added to the existing pavement, resulting in only minor delays to motorists during construction. Work on the project will be completed by the end of 2009.
Money from the federal stimulus package enabled MoDOT to accelerate the project from its original completion date of 2011 to February 2009.
"We promised we would be ready to go to make the best use of every dollar we receive through the economic recovery act to create jobs and make our highways safer," said MoDOT Director Pete Rahn. "We delivered on that promise and then some."
Missouri will receive approximately $637 million for road and bridge projects and an estimated $150 million to address air, rail, transit, waterway and pedestrian projects throughout the state.
According to MoDOT, this investment by the federal government will create an estimated 14,000 jobs and have an estimated $2.4 billion impact on the state's economy.
President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in Denver, Colo., on Feb. 17.
"What makes this recovery plan so important is not just that it will create or save three and a half million jobs over the next two years," said President Obama. "It's that we are putting Americans to work doing the work that America needs done in critical areas that have been neglected for too long -- work that will bring real and lasting change for generations to come."