Congressman Hits Pace Mass. Spending Stimulus Funds

Fri October 09, 2009 - Northeast Edition

BOSTON (AP) A Minnesota congressman is criticizing the pace Massachusetts is spending economic stimulus money for transportation projects.

Minnesota Democrat James Oberstar, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure chair, told Gov. Deval Patrick that Massachusetts was 49th in the country in using highway stimulus money.

The state has received $437 million in highway funds, but only about $99 million in construction work was under way by Aug. 31.

In a letter, Oberstar urged Patrick to refocus, citing critical jobs created by the projects.

Patrick responded that Massachusetts was focused on selecting projects that create spinoff work and permanent jobs. He said in a letter that ambitious projects take longer to deliver, but “provide greater long-term economic growth.’’

Patrick said a separate report ranked Massachusetts 5th in how it’s handled stimulus funds.