Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Other Projects Gained from Stimulus Package, Too; Stretch of Florida 9B, Deepening of Ship Channel Also Received a Boost

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Other Projects Gained from Stimulus Package, Too; Stretch of Florida 9B, Deepening of Ship Channel Also Received a Boost

Article excerpt

Byline: David Bauerlein

The Saft plant that President Obama will visit Friday got more money from the 2009 stimulus package than any other Northeast Florida project, but some other notable construction also got a boost from the controversial American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Almost $140 million for roadwork and transit flowed to Duval County, including $64 million to build a four-lane piece of Florida 9B from Interstate 295 to Philips Highway on Jacksonville's fast-growing Southside.

Deepening Jacksonville's ship channel to a 40-foot depth for a stretch of the river going to the Talleyrand terminals finally got done with $32 million from the stimulus.

When Obama tours Saft's high-tech battery manufacturing plant, he'll use the Westside factory as a backdrop to argue the stimulus has done what he said it would do - stabilize the reeling economy and get it growing again, administration officials said Thursday in a preview of his appearance.

"What should be really clear, and the evidence is overwhelming, is that the Recovery Act worked, and if you remember, none of the progress that we made was inevitable," said Cecilia Munoz, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council. "This president had to fight for it."

His visit will be the latest volley in the debate over the $787 billion stimulus, which passed despite overwhelming opposition among congressional Republicans who argued it wouldn't create jobs. The size of the stimulus led to the rise of the tea party, including big crowds that protested the expansion of government spending in 2009 when they rallied at The Jacksonville Landing.

First Coast Tea Party Chairman Carole McManus said the stimulus isn't at the forefront of the group's current roster of issues. "We as a tea party have moved on and are focused on other things right now," she said Thursday. …

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