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Drivers face delays from 2,000 stimulus-funded projects

US motorists are likely to see more construction zones this summer.

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If you've been stuck in traffic recently because construction has closed off lanes, blame Washington. But this winter, when you’re not hitting potholes, you can thank Washington.

Because of the economic stimulus package, motorists are likely to see more of those orange traffic cones this summer. Places from Minneapolis to Rochester, N.Y., seem to have permanent “flagmen” warning of what's ahead. In some cities, it will be almost impossible to avoid delays.

“We’re seeing an intersection of the peak summer driving season – July and August – combined with an influx of stimulus-related funding for construction,” says Troy Green, a national spokesman for AAA in Washington. “It means this summer will probably be busier than normal for road construction.”

Nationwide, 2,000 stimulus-funded construction projects are under way, and another 5,600 have been approved for bidding, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) estimated last Tuesday.

“That means every day, the number of projects under way will go up,” says Tony Dorsey, an AASHTO spokesman. “We will pretty much see it all over the country.”

Initially, some motorists will see more of it than others. Utah, Oklahoma, and Maine plan to have under contract this summer 100 percent of their highway stimulus funds. Another 15 states plan to have 80 percent of their funding contracted out this summer, Mr. Dorsey says.

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