(KCPW News) Governor Jon Huntsman has sent a $14 billion infrastructure wish-list to the Obama Administration, including nearly $12 billion for state highways and bridges. Carlos Braceras with the Utah Department of Transportation says the federal relief package could create thousands of jobs.
"There's a big bang for the buck in this area," Braceras says. "And the fact that we're ready to go with transportation projects, that we have the environmental documents complete on these, means that we can turn around and put this money to work quickly."
There are 146 "shovel ready" projects on the transportation list, including highway extensions, road surface maintenance and bridge repairs. The list also includes nearly $4 billion in projects put on hold this fall over budget concerns.
While the bulk of the request is for UDOT, Huntsman also asked for $2.2 billion for 11 transit and light rail projects. Gerry Carpenter with the Utah Transit Authority says the relief package would fast-track projects that otherwise could be delayed due to slumping sales tax revenue.
"If we can get this kind of relief to help boost our revenues, we can move forward very quickly," Carpenter says. "And in the long run, it will save us a lot of money because it's always cheaper to buy now than to wait until inflation causes the cost of rail to go up, the cost of construction materials to go up. By buying now, you can save a lot of money over waiting five to 10 years."
The transit projects on the list were already planned for future implementation or are currently under construction. They include building the TRAX line to Salt Lake City International Airport and extending Frontrunner commuter rail service to the south. The state estimates all the projects combined would create 124,000 jobs.