Stimulus money in Washington flowing to second tier projects

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by GLENN FARLEY / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @GlennFarley

KING5.com

Posted on March 16, 2010 at 5:58 PM

MONROE, Wash. - At the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and SR 203, also known as Chain Lake and Lewis roads, 45 people are working.  Some say they wouldn't have been working if it had not been for the project to widen a several block long section of SR 203.

It's a $1.5 million project, which is virtual pocket change in the world of big highway projects that have attracted the most attention in the debate over economic stimulus. But more projects like this are now getting done or are about to start.

The City of Monroe had applied for stimulus money for this project during the first round, but lost out to other projects, said Holly Patterson, a City of Monroe senior engineer. But despite the initial loss, Patterson was optimistic. There was a chance of getting the project funded. Now that bet is paying off.

Of the $429 million in federal stimulus money that initially went to the state, $70 million was saved because the work was being done for a lot less and it's that money that's now flowing into second and third tier projects.

One of the reasons there's millions of dollars left over is that contractors are willing to do the work for little or no profit.

Dennis Johnson is the project engineer with Lake Steven's based Thomco.

"We're treading water," said Johnson, hoping like a lot of contractors the stimulus money will provide a bridge to the day the economic recovery finally comes to construction.

Not all contractors have survived, especially those who focused on the housing market.  And in some cases, those contractors are now bidding for public works projects, says Johnson.

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