I-10 expansion excluded from President Biden’s infrastructure investment priorities

President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last month awarded $1.2 billion dollars from the new National Infrastructure Project Assistance Discretionary Grant Program to nine different mega projects – none of which include Arizona’s I-10 expansion. 

President Biden and Secretary Buttigieg’s infrastructure plan involves funding the following projects to “create jobs, strengthen supply chains, expand our new economy, and renew America’s built landscape.”

●       $250 million for Brent Spence Bridge Improvements (Cincinnati, OH and Covington, KY): an important freight corridor that oversees $400 billion in freight movement annually and has become one of the largest trucking bottlenecks in the U.S.

●       $292 million for Hudson Yards Concrete Casing, Section 3 (New York, NY): shorten commute times for travelers and truckers through the Hudson Tunnel in NYC.

●       $78 million for Roosevelt Boulevard Multimodal Projects (Philadelphia, PA): make improvements along 12 miles of the boulevard to reduce accident rate and improve transportation safety.

●       $150 million to replace the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge (Calcaseiu, LA): improve southeast regional mobility, southeast supply chains, and safety.

●       $110 million to replace Alligator River Bridge (Dare and Tyrell Counties, NC): support construction for a modern high-rise fixed-span bridge to improve travel times and safety for cars, bikers, and pedestrians. Alligator River Bridge is also a critical hurricane evacuation route.

●       $60 million to improve I-10 Freight Corridor (Diamondhead, MS): widen the I-10 in Mississippi from 4 lanes to 6 lanes to promote future economic growth in the Southeast.

Other government funding will go to climate-related projects with an intermodal focus involving bike crossings and zero-emission buses in California. 

Many Arizonans, including lawmakers, are unhappy with the president’s announcement excluding the I-10 expansion in Arizona. 

“Interstate 10 — the KEY commerce artery for AZ-US-Mexico — is left unfunded while (Secretary Buttigieg) pet projects in California and New York are pushed through,” Arizona Rep. Juan Ciscomani, R, said on Twitter. “This is a failure of epic proportions and a reflection of everything wrong with D.C.-driven decisions.” 

Much of the interstate between Phoenix and Tucson is three lanes in each direction, but the remaining stretch that is still two lanes in each direction is notorious for crashes and backups.

Arizona lawmakers argue expanding the I-10 would revamp several interchanges, crossroads, and bridges, improving safety in the portion of I-10 between Casa Grande and Wild Horse Pass and resulting in fewer supply chain disruptions and a significant boost to the region’s economy and quality of life. 

Republican state Rep. Teresa Martinez, R, expressed frustration at this decision in an article reported by AZ Bex, but says the Legislature remains committed to finding a way to secure additional funding to continue Arizona I-10 expansion. 

Martinez’ seatmate, state Sen. T.J. Shope, R, expressed optimism that the fate of the project could improve thanks to the recent appointment of Ciscomani to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. 

Sen. Mark Kelly, D, also emphasized his commitment to finding a solution.

“Arizonans rely on the I-10 to connect them to jobs, educational opportunities and their families, which is why improving and expanding this highway is still a top priority for me,” Kelly said in a prepared statement.

Michael Kittilson

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