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Originally published Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 1:50 PM

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UDOT ahead of schedule on use of nearly $150 million in federal stimulus funds

Utah Department of Transportation officials say they have already obligated $95.5 million of the nearly $150 million in federal stimulus funds the agency is receiving for road construction.

SALT LAKE CITY —

Utah Department of Transportation officials say they have already obligated $95.5 million of the nearly $150 million in federal stimulus funds the agency is receiving for road construction.

Federal stimulus guidelines require half of a state's road construction money to be obligated within 120 days.

"But we have already obligated 64 percent of the $149.5 million we're getting," said UDOT spokesman Nile Easton.

Easton said the obligation of funds means the money has been appropriated for specific projects and that the projects have gotten the go-ahead.

"We have received letters (from federal agencies) authorizing us to obligate funds," said Lisa Roskelley, spokeswoman for Gov. Jon Huntsman.

UDOT has obligated more than half of the money in two weeks, 15 weeks ahead of schedule.

In total, Utah will have 56 road projects funded by the federal stimulus money. All of the federally funded projects have to be finished within three years.

By the end of March, 18 road bids will be opened and awarded for projects funded by federal cash, Easton said.

UDOT Executive Director John Njord has estimated the stimulus money for UDOT projects, combined with money for city and county construction projects, will create 6,000 jobs.

UDOT is getting $149.5 million of the $213 million in stimulus money being spent on transportation projects in Utah.

The rest will go to regional transportation planning groups such as the Wasatch Front Regional Council, which is the largest regional planning organization for roads and represents 60 percent of the states population. The council covers Weber, Salt Lake, Davis, Morgan and Tooele counties. The council will get nearly $50 million in federal stimulus money.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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