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March 3, 2011 - 4:41pm

Federal government awards A2 with $13.9M to improve bridges


On Friday the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $13.9 million grant to help fund the replacement of two bridges in Ann Arbor that cross State Street and the Ann Arbor Railroad.

The grant, called the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery II grant, will be used for the Ann Arbor Bridges project, which intends to make commutes to the University faster and safer.

Plans to replace the two bridges were spearheaded by U.S. Reps. John Dingell (D–Mich.) and Mark Schauer (D-Mich.) as well as U.S. Sens. Carl Levin (D–Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.).

According to a press release issued Friday, the Ann Arbor bridges serve more than 48,000 vehicles per day, including the University’s roughly 42,000 students and 35,000 employees.

In the press release, Dingell wrote that the University produces small businesses ventures and innovative research, and the new bridges will only further the success of the state.

“This corridor serves as a critical link to one of the strongest and most successful parts of Michigan’s economy,” Dingell said.

Currently, the bridges are not as safe or reliable as they could be. The bridges are deteriorating, and traffic has been reduced to travel in one lane for each direction because of the bridge’s conditions, the press release said.

According to the press release, the Federal Sufficiency Rating rated the bridges 2 on a 100-point scale.

Because of the cost associated with the broken bridges — delay time, vehicle operation and crash costs — the new bridges will save Ann Arbor residents a total of $33 million each year, the press release said.

In the release, Dingell wrote that the grant will help attract new businesses to the area and make Ann Arbor “safe and accessible to future employers, employees and their families.”

“The Ann Arbor Bridges project serve as an example of how critical infrastructure projects are to economic development in Southeastern Michigan,” Dingell wrote.

Besides improving commutes, the Ann Arbor Bridges project will create 450 jobs for the duration of construction and will generate $53 million.

In a separate press release yesterday, Stabenow wrote that the project will widely benefit the community.

“The repairs will also provide an economic boost to the area and create hundreds of jobs,” she wrote.

On Monday, Dingell will join Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Jackie Shinn, Michigan Department of Transportation Director, for a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m, at the corner of State Street and Rose Street in Ann Arbor. The session will take place under the East Stadium Bridge, and community members are welcome to attend to learn about the city’s plans to repair the bridge.