Obama stimulus: More old school fix-ups, less New Deal grandeur

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Quick spending to repair America's infrastructure is the priority for most of the bill's $787 billion. Instead of grand public works, officials seek to fix roads, schools, sewer lines and the like.

Compared with the epic approach of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, President Obama's economic recovery strategy could be summed up as: Think small -- in a huge way.

FDR left a legacy of engineering marvels that still adorn the landscape: the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state, and New York's LaGuardia Airport and Triborough Bridge among them.

But don't look for similar monuments to emerge from the new stimulus plan, despite its $787-billion price tag. Billions in infrastructure spending is likely to go for less-glamorous but widely distributed projects such as repaving battered streets, repairing rundown schools and replacing aging sewer lines.

"Resurfacing, painting, lighting and maintenance programs are not as flashy as building a new bridge, but as projects they are no less important," said Jeff Solsby of the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn. "They provide important benefits and create jobs to grow the economy."

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