View I-85 Yadkin River Bridge in a larger map
The U.S. Department of Transportation today awarded North Carolina just $10 million of the $300 million it requested last year in federal stimulus funds to widen Interstate 85 near Salisbury, and to replace the obsolescent four-lane bridge over the Yadkin River.
So the state Department of Transportation will face an indefinite delay on a $150 million project to widen six miles of I-85, mostly north of Salisbury.
But DOT will use a fall-back plan to get started this summer with construction on a new eight-lane, $180 million Yadkin River bridge.
“We’re going to go ahead and let that contract in April,” said Ted Vaden, a DOT deputy secretary. Construction will start by this fall, to finish in mid-2013.
DOT will pay for the $180 million bridge with $150 million in federal GARVEE bonds -- basically a loan against future federal highway dollars -- plus $20 million in other state funding and the $10 million federal stimulus grant announced today.
The narrow bridge, built in 1955, carries 70,000 cars and trucks every day on the main interstate highway between Richmond and Atlanta. Its replacement will give travelers a faster and less frightening trip over the Yadkin River, but it will leave I-85 with a narrow, six-mile bottleneck mostly in Davidson County.
“Obviously the $300 million would have enabled us to build it faster, and be able to use those resources for other transportation needs in North Carolina. We’re extremely disappointed” not to receive the full grant that had been requested, Vaden said.