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August 22, 2009

Where Are the Signs?

"How come there are no stimulus road projects in Vermont?" As Vermont's stimulus czar, I hear this question all the time.

"There are lots of stimulus-funded road projects in Vermont," I reply. But I know what's coming next.

"I just drove home through New Hampshire [or New York or Massachusetts] and there were lots and lots of signs for ARRA projects. There are no signs in Vermont."

Right. Those signs cost $1500 each. You need at least two for each project. The exact form for the sign and the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) logo are spelled out in federal guidelines along with a "recommendation" that the signs be displayed.

Here in Vermont we decided that we'd rather spend the stimulus highway dollars on roads than signs. We have lots of projects but we don't have signs. Once I explain almost everyone agrees with this decision.

However, if you are worried about the number of projects here, ProPublica, a citizen reporting network, just reported that Vermont is #2 nationally (New Mexico is #1) in the percentage of approved road and bridge projects which have been given a final construction green light. We got going early; we already had a project list; and, as VTRANS spokesman John Zicconi says, "unlike Texas, we can't work through the winter."

So, don't worry; we're working on the roads and bridges. You can find a list of all the stimulus projects in Vermont that we know about (some go straight from the feds to recipients and we report them as best we can but not perfectly) at http://recovery.vermont.gov/sites/stimulus/files/1VT_ARRA_Programs_by_Location.xls and lots of information about stimulus transportation projects in particular at http://apps.vtrans.vermont.gov/stimulus/. The web is cheaper than signs.

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