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COLUMBIA -- A debate over whether to put up signs to identify stimulus projects boils down to a key disagreement: Where some see government waste, others see government transparency.
In South Carolina, the state Department of Transportation manufactured 14 signs at a total cost of $3,700, according to statement from S.C. Transportation Secretary H.B. Limehouse over the weekend.
He cited national news coverage of other states’ expenditures on signs to identify roadway projects funded by Obama Administration’s American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion package aimed at job creation, tax cuts, social programs and public works projects. Congressional Republicans’ were quoted criticizing the signs, which also say, “Putting America Back to Work,” as wasteful and politically motivated.
“I made the decision early in the process in the spring of 2009 that we would not spend money for signs on each ARRA project,” said Limehouse in a statement.
“Our policy has been to put as much funding into the maintenance of our highway system as possible.”
Across the border to the west, signs were discontinued last fall.
Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said the agency erected 240 signs for 120 stimulus projects at a cost of $1,200 each. The GDOT stopped creating them in September after members of the public raised concerns.
There’s a good argument for both,” she said, noting that the signs were originally put up for government transparency, a simple way to show the public how its money was being spent.
She said there was no order from the White House requiring them to place the signs next to the stimulus projects.
“It was an optional thing, and there are good reasons to have the signs,” said Paulk-Buchanan.
“But there was a consensus from our state transportation board to use the money across the state to do multiple projects, and if you add them all together, it would have worked out to quite a sum.”