The government will spend $27 billion repairing roads and bridges as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those projects are estimated to create 765,000 jobs of the 3.5 million promised by the Obama administration. You have probably heard accounts of how the billions will be spent. A bridge here. A road there. But what's the big picture? Will repaving highways and bolstering overpasses create as many jobs as the administration says? Are they wise investments, reconstruction projects for the 21st century?
That's why we're asking ProPublica's readers to hit the pavement this summer. Chances are your daily commute already takes you by a road or a bridge that will be fixed with stimulus money. Would you volunteer to monitor a project?
We'll provide you instructions, guidance and, of course, full credit for your work.
Everything we produce together can also be republished: All of ProPublica's reporting is published under a Creative Commons license, meaning that publications and bloggers can reprint it in full. (Here are the details.) We hope it winds up in your local paper, too.
Wondering how this assignment will work?
Andrea Bernstein, the political director for our stimulus tracking partner The Takeaway, recently reported on the planned widening of North Carolina 51, outside Charlotte. The project was billed as "shovel ready," and thanks to stimulus money, the work has started. But when Andrea traveled to the area and spoke with people there, she found skepticism. It turns out the planned expansion stops at the border with South Carolina. In other words, congestion won't disappear, it might just move across state lines.
Like Andrea, you can help us -- and fellow citizens -- understand the scope and significance of projects in your area. What kinds of repairs are being made? What construction companies are getting hired? When does construction start -- and end?
Your reports will provide us the information we need to answer the hard questions. All you've got to do is sign up, and bring a notebook along for the ride. Call it public service 2.0.