Digital History has an interesting note on WPA history, and the equivalent FDR spent on such projects.
Work crews were criticized for spending days moving leaf piles from one side of the street to the other. Unions went on strike to protest the program’s refusal to pay wages equal to those of the private sector. President Ronald Reagan, a staunch critic of large-scale government programs, was one of the WPA’s defenders, however. “Some people,” he said, “have called it boondoggle and everything else. But having lived through that era and seen it, no, it was probably one of the social programs that was most practical in those New Deal days.”
Approximately five percent of its budget was devoted to the arts. WPA alumni include writers Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright, the artist Jackson Pollack, and actor and director Orson Welles.
The WPA was not especially efficient. In Washington, D.C., construction costs typically ran three-to-four times the cost of private work. Although, this was intentional. The WPA avoided cost-saving machinery in order to hire more workers. At its peak, the WPA spent $2.2 billion a year, or approximately $30 billion annually in current dollars.
(Total was an equivalent of $170 billion…rdan)