HARRISBURG – With the passing of Labor Day, PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E., is paying tribute today to PennDOT employees and the Pennsylvania highway construction, design and consultant inspection industries for their efforts to fast-track road and bridge construction projects that are boosting the economic recovery.

"Recovery Act funding is helping to get the economy back on track, and Pennsylvania has moved quickly to invest these funds to create economic opportunities and improve our network of roads and bridges," Biehler said.

"PennDOT employees went to work last November preparing for the expected economic recovery work that President Obama and Congress wanted state Departments of Transportation to accomplish," Biehler added. "Our district offices developed ways to either expedite projects on the back end of the Transportation Improvement Plans or develop additional projects that could meet the quick timelines called for by the Recovery Act."

At the same time, PennDOT employees worked hard to deliver Governor Edward G. Rendell's Accelerated Bridge Program, exceeding the target of 411 bridges by 14 percent. Contracts were announced for rebuilding 470 structurally deficient bridges during the 2008-09 fiscal year. This is the largest effort of this type in the history of the commonwealth, and it is the nation's largest rebuilding program.

"By mid-summer, within six months of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the benefits in Pennsylvania had translated into more than 3,600 jobs created or sustained," Biehler said. "Contractors delivered prices that were below estimates, meaning the recovery dollars could be stretched even further. The original list of 241 recovery projects grew to 293 because of low-bid cost savings."

As of Aug. 27, PennDOT has awarded contracts for 219 recovery projects valued at $660 million.

Biehler also thanked PennDOT's government partners: the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the 23 Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations, the Department of Environmental Protection and the state Transportation Commission. He also said that cooperation from Amtrak and the borough of Elizabethtown, Lancaster County, was a key to Pennsylvania advancing the Elizabethtown train station as a recovery project.

"None of this would have happened without the dedication and tireless work of the people of PennDOT and the highway construction, design and consultant inspection industries and our government partners," Biehler said. "Together, we are improving the transportation experience for the people of Pennsylvania and injecting much needed dollars into the state's economy; creating a brighter future for us all."