DALLAS - The Woodall Rodgers Deck Park, which is currently under construction, will not just be a new attraction in downtown Dallas; it will also serve as a political trophy for the President Barack Obama administration and Democrats in Congress.
The park is the largest project in Texas receiving stimulus funds. Monday, the president's transportation secretary, Republican Ray LaHood, made a visit to Dallas to remind voters just that.
Like any big highway project, the Woodall Rogers Deck Park construction has drawn gawks from drivers and led to delays from lane closures. But, it has stimulated more than stares and traffic.
"It's impossible to overstate the positive impact that stimulus funds have had on this project," said Linda Owen, with the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation.
After the deck park won $16.7 million in stimulus money, it became an example of why the Obama administration and congressional Democrats believe the $700-billion stimulus plan was necessary. The project's estimated to create 1,000 immediate jobs.
In the high-profile race for the Republican nomination for governor, Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison have both criticized the plan as too much spending.
But, Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, said the spending is worth it. He praised Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, the only member of the North Texas congressional delegation who voted for the stimulus.
"Without that vote, we would not be standing here today and these fellas that are working out here in these yellow jackets would not be working," he said.
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who is toying with the idea of running in a special Senate election as a Republican, said in August he thought the stimulus money was flowing too slowly. But, there were no comments of the such Monday.
"And we're thankful Mr. Secretary for all the support that we've received at the federal level," he said.
When finished in 2012, the deck park, which is also partially being built with private, city and state money, will connect downtown with uptown and points beyond.