Gov. Perdue will pursue grant money for bridge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Gov. Bev Perdue said today she will go after discretionary grant money included in the recently passed economic stimulus package to replace the Interstate 85 bridge spanning the Yadkin River.
“I am encouraged,” said state Rep. Lorene Coates, D-Rowan.
The I-85 bridge, which is more than 50 years old, links Rowan and Davidson counties and carries upwards of 65,000 vehicles a day.
The project carries a cost of about $300 million, which could present an obstacle.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Barack Obama Tuesday included $1.5 billion in discretionary grants to be awarded to states for transportation projects.
These grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and can range in size from $20 million to $300 million.
But no more than 20 percent of the total money can be allocated to any one state.
The Yadkin River bridge project would represent 20 percent of the total funding available.
Any discretionary funding received would be in addition to the $838 million the N.C. Department of Transportation is expected to receive through the stimulus package, including $735 million for highway and bridge projects and $103 million for aviation, bicycle and pedestrian, ferry, public transportation and rail projects.
The $735 million is going to be distributed by the state’s existing equity formula across all of its highway divisions.
Rowan and Davidson counties are in Division 9, whose stimulus share would be about $49 million under the equity formula.
Perdue’s office said the governor and N.C. Transportation Secretary Gene Conti will work with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, U.S. Rep. Mel Watt and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation to obtain funding for the Yadkin River bridge.
“This is a long-awaited and exciting announcement about replacing the Yadkin River bridge,” Coates said. “We are grateful for the leadership Gov. Perdue has provided on this important issue.”