Why so many construction zones?

PHILADELPHIA - September 25, 2009 So, why are we spending so much time in the construction zone?

The answer: Federal recovery money.

In a normal year, PennDOT would spend about $350 million on highway projects. This year, it's $655 million thanks to the stimulus.

"It's tremendous, from a standpoint of us making improvements," said Gene Blaum of PennDOT.

29 new projects have been added to PennDOT's workload thanks to the stimulus money. 13 of them are already underway, like the resurfacing of Route 422 in Montgomery County.

In addition to the new projects, PennDOT has more than 160 existing projects already underway. So, with all that activity, how do you avoid bringing the entire region to a standstill?

It's a juggling act, PennDOT says, and it's about to get even more complicated.

Early next month, PennDOT will begin a massive project to refurbish the Girard Point bridge that carries I-95 over the Schuylkill River. They'll be spending $70 million to resurface, repair and repaint the bridge.

Meanwhile, from enormous projects to small, the projects will last for years. They'll also pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy and keep thousands of people employed.

Just something to think about the next time you're stuck in construction traffic.

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