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ADOT seeks federal grants for I-15, I-10 upgrades
Upgrades to the Virgin Gorge Bridge on Interstate 15 in the northwest corner of Arizona is one of two projects the state's Department of Transportation is seeking federal aid for. (Image courtesy DesertNews)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportationis seeking $40 million from the federal government for two key projects that support the movement of interstate commerce, ADOT officials have announced.

The federal grant application comes during a period when limited funds are available for maintaining the roughly 7,000-mile Arizona highway system, ADOT officials stated.

The application seeks dollars through the TIGER program for 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.

Details of the two Arizona projects include:

• 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, according to ADOT officials.

The U.S. DOT is expected to announce the recipients of the TIGER V grants later this year.

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