Federal grant to help with I-85 bridge project

Posted February 17, 2010 12:03 p.m. EST
Updated February 17, 2010 6:16 p.m. EST

— Plans to replace the Interstate 85 bridge over the Yadkin River got a boost Wednesday when federal officials allocated $10 million in economic stimulus funds to the project.

The 55-year-old bridge in Davidson County is one of the most traveled bridges in the state. The North Carolina Department of Transportation insists the bridge is structurally sound but say it still requires immediate attention.

The funds are part of 51 transportation projects nationwide funded by $1.5 billion in grants through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program, or TIGER.

"TIGER grants will tackle the kind of major transportation projects that have been difficult to build under other funding programs,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This will help us meet the 21st-century challenges of improving the environment, making our communities more livable and enhancing safety, all while creating jobs and growing the economy.”

Gov. Beverly Perdue has lobbied for $300 million in stimulus funds for the Yadkin River Bridge project for the past year. She expressed disappointment Wednesday at the size of the TIGER award.

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said the state Department of Transportation will now use $150 million in bonds to pay for the first phase of the project to replace or retrofit five aging bridges over the river and widen three miles of road.

Construction on that phase could begin this summer and be completed in 2013.

State transportation officials said the bridge replacement project could create 9,000 thousand jobs.

The project is the only one in North Carolina to receive TIGER funds.