PHOENIX —With limited funds available for maintaining approximately 7,000 miles on Arizona’s highway system, the Arizona Department of Transportation is seeking $40 million from the federal government for two key projects that support the movement of interstate commerce.
The projects include rehabilitating a bridge approaching the Virgin River Gorge on Interstate 15 to and from the Nevada and Utah state lines in Mohave County, and improving Arizona-California border crossing times at the Ehrenberg Port of Entry on Interstate 10 in La Paz County. Both interstates are heavily used by commercial trucks en route to deliver goods to Arizona and the rest of the nation.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, all 50 states and the District of Columbia submitted 568 applications in the fifth round of federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER V) grant funds for a total of $9 billion, much more than the $474 million the federal government has allocated for the 2013 program.
Last year, ADOT successfully secured a $21.6 million grant, the largest single grant given to any state last year, to improve Virgin River Gorge Bridge No. 6 on I-15 (milepost 16) in the fourth round of TIGER funding. That rehabilitation project will focus on the first of the eight bridges on the I-15 corridor that have been identified for repair. The $27 million project is slated to begin construction later this year in the northwest corner of Arizona.
In 2010, Tucson successfully won federal funding for a $63 million modern streetcar project through the first round of TIGER funding. To date, the I-15 bridge and Tucson streetcar projects are the only TIGER-awarded projects Arizona has received since the TIGER grant program was launched in 2009.
The following are the projects that ADOT submitted for TIGER V grant consideration this month:
- I-15 Virgin River Bridge No. 1 ($24 million grant, total cost $30 million): The I-15 bridge (milepost 10) is located in the Virgin River Gorge in the northwestern corner of Arizona and serves as a vital link between the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and beyond. The bridge, built in 1964, is rated as “structurally deficient,” meaning it is safe, but requires repair or improvement. While most Arizonans have never driven on this remote 29-mile stretch of highway, it is a critical commercial trade route in North America used by more than 1.4 million trucks annually. The rehabilitation project would include the replacement of the bridge’s superstructure (girders, deck and railings), as well as widening the roadway.
- Reconstruction of the Ehrenberg Port of Entry ($16 million grant, total cost $20 million): The project would reconstruct the facility, which was built in 1976, and provide an effective electronic screening system to better facilitate the safe movement of commercial truck traffic into Arizona. The port of entry is located in western Arizona along I-10 approximately three miles from the California state line. As one of the nation’s primary transportation corridors, I-10 provides a safe and expeditious route for commercial truck traffic to deliver goods from international sea ports in Southern California to Arizona and across the nation.
TIGER grants are awarded to transportation projects that have a significant national or regional impact. Projects are chosen for their ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve the safety of U.S. transportation facilities, and enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections. The U.S. DOT gives priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate increases in economic activity.
The U.S. DOT is expected to announce the recipients of the TIGER V grants later this year.