WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the country is already "seeing shovels hit the ground" on the first infrastructure repair project funded through the Transportation Department's share of the $787 billion stimulus bill.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood added, "The work begins today in Montgomery County, Maryland, where a work crew is starting on a project to resurface Maryland State Highway 650 - a very busy road that has not been fully repaired in 17 years."
Obama and LaHood made the announcement during an appearance before federal workers at the Transportation Department.
The resurfacing contract, LaHood said, went to a Pennsylvania-based family-owned company, America Infrastructure.
LaHood said the project will support 60 jobs. "And that's how we're going to get the country back on its feet," he added.
The stimulus plan - signed two weeks ago - will ultimately help steer $28 billion in new federal funds to highway construction and repair - part of the "largest new investment in America's infrastructure since President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System," Obama noted.
Obama stated that, over the next few weeks, the country will launch more than 200 construction projects nationwide, "fueling growth in an industry that's been hard hit by our economic crisis."
He promised that, all together, the new highway spending will create or save 150,000 jobs by the end of next year - more jobs "being created or saved in one year than GM, Ford and Chrysler have lost in manufacturing over the past three years combined."
Obama also announced that the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve are launching the Consumer and Business Lending Initiative on Tuesday. When fully implemented, Obama said, the initiative "will generate up to a trillion
dollars in new lending for the American people, and this will help unlock our
frozen credit markets, which is absolutely essential for economic recovery."