Shovel ready

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For other uses, see Shovel Ready (novel).

Shovel ready is a political term used to describe construction projects (usually larger-scale infrastructure) where planning and engineering is advanced enough that with sufficient funding, construction can begin within a very short time.


Writing for The Washington Post, writer Manuel Roig-Franzia sardonically suggested that the phrase did not exist and had never before been used until President Barack Obama used it during an interview with Meet the Press on 6 December 2008.[1][2] Obama used the phrase to describe infrastructure projects that were ready to immediately receive stimulus funding of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[3]

Later, other commentators suggested the phrase denoted projects which were able to begin construction within a specific time-frame of three or four months[4] on a use it or lose it basis.


In the US[edit]

Having originated in the United States, the term is now used generally in reference to projects which are candidates for economic stimulus spending: money put into a shovel ready project will have a more immediate impact on the economy than money spent on a project on which a great deal of time must elapse for architecture, zoning, legal considerations or other such factors before labor can be deployed on it.[citation needed]

In Iowa, the Seven County Corridor Alliance (Benton County, Cedar County, Iowa County, Johnson County, Jones County, Linn County and Washington County) established a Shovel Ready Certification Program to certify projects as shovel ready that will be added to a local, regional and statewide inventory of sites with similar qualifications and will be strongly marketed.[5]

The Georgia Department of Transportation has established specific criteria projects must meet to be considered shovel ready including National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) clearances and relevant property acquisition requirements.[6]

In Australia[edit]

In Australia, the term is also used in relation to stimulus funding, specifically funding programs like the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.[7] In 2009, the term shovel-ready won the Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year award.[8]

In the UK[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the phrase has been used on a number of occasions by Vincent De Rivaz, the Chief Executive of EDF Energy, in the context of a proposed new nuclear power station in Somerset.[9] [10] [11]

In Scotland[edit]

In Scotland, the phrase is used in a similar context. For example, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil, used the term in March 2012 to describe the status of 36 infrastructure projects on a list handed to the government of the United Kingdom for potential funding.[12]