Biden Administration Selects Oklahoma as Recipient of Grant to Replace Failing Bridges

Associated Press - April 14, 2023 6:41 am

In this March 26, 2007 file photo, a rusted bridge along old Route 66 in Chelsea, Okla. is shown. Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm said Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 that he is done trying to rename a portion of the iconic Route 66 highway in northeastern Oklahoma after President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Mel Root, File)

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The Biden administration Thursday selected Oklahoma as the recipient of one of nine grants to help replace failing bridges across the country.

The $300 million in funding comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Bridge Investment Program.

The announcement came as the administration wraps up three weeks of traveling the country on what they’ve been calling the ‘Investing in America Tour’, to showcase a variety of programs and progress on improving the nation’s infrastructure.

“The largest infrastructure investment since President Eisenhower,” Vice President Kamala Harris exclaimed Thursday afternoon.

Harris outlined the bridge investment program while standing in front of Washington, D.C.’s well-traveled and frequently clogged 14th Street Bridge, which is one of the nine projects chosen to receive a grant.

“Part of the determination we make in awarding funds is that the project is ready to go,” Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg said in an interview Thursday.

In Oklahoma’s case, the ‘project’ is the replacement of seven bridges in the north central and northwest parts of the state. The state is getting $11.5 million to replace bridges currently rated as ‘structurally deficient’ or ‘functionally obsolete.’

Trottenberg said the administration is excited to help: “We know in rural areas it’s particularly important to have these connections, they’re important for commerce — in the case of Oklahoma with agriculture and the oil industry.”

The bridges are all currently load-posted, meaning, in some cases, trucks and school buses have to find alternate routes.

In a statement, ODOT officials expressed gratitude for being selected: “ODOT’s County Improvements for Roads & Bridges program works with counties to provide them every opportunity to land such grants. Replacing these bridges in northwest Oklahoma will provide citizens there much safer and reliable travel.”

“I have to say, I think we’ve had a terrific partnership with Oklahoma,” Trottenberg said. She also said that she’s been to the state already on a couple of occasions to meet with state transportation leaders. “I think investing in infrastructure and creating jobs is something that there’s broad support for nationwide.”

In addition to Oklahoma and Washington, D.C., the other grant recipients are California, New York, Michigan, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Texas.

 

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