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Two Years of IIJA Investments Fuel Growth Across Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Western Tennessee

Beams are lifted into place during construction of the U.S. 75 northbound bridge over I-44 in April 2022.
Beams are lifted into place during construction of the U.S. 75 northbound bridge over I-44 in April 2022.
An aerial image of the I-44 and U.S. 75 interchange looking east taken during construction in March 2022.
An aerial image of the I-44 and U.S. 75 interchange looking east taken during construction in March 2022.
On December 9, 2022, the Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, broke ground on the Humble Canal Floodgate Preload project, part of the Morganza to the Gulf flood risk reduction system. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Davis)
On December 9, 2022, the Army Corps of Engineers, New Orleans District, broke ground on the Humble Canal Floodgate Preload project, part of the Morganza to the Gulf flood risk reduction system. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Davis)
Installation of structural steel takes place for the new I-30 eastbound Arkansas River Bridge in Little Rock.
Installation of structural steel takes place for the new I-30 eastbound Arkansas River Bridge in Little Rock.
A crew member welds the structural steel for the new I-30 eastbound Arkansas River Bridge.
A crew member welds the structural steel for the new I-30 eastbound Arkansas River Bridge.
A worker installs concrete panels on the I-30 Arkansas River Bridge.
A worker installs concrete panels on the I-30 Arkansas River Bridge.
In November 2021, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in the nation’s infrastructure. President Joe Biden’s administration proposed this legislation to rebuild America’s roads, bridges, and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind.

Over two years have passed since Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and hundreds of substantial infrastructure improvement projects are already in full swing across the country. Highlighted below are a few of the top-funded projects underway in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and western Tennessee.

Arkansas
The Biden Administration invested $5.1 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy in Arkansas, including:

  • $3.3 billion for transportation investments, including roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, and electric buses.
  • $185 million in grants, rebates, and other incentives to boost the use of clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing. These funds are in addition to incentives created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $315.2 million for climate resiliency and hardening against other threats.
  • $207.1 million for improving access to clean water and water infrastructure, including $88 million for replacing lead pipes and service lines.
Top Projects
McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, Phase 1
IIJA Funding: $109 million
Construction Start Date: 2023
End Date: 2026

The 445-mile-long McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System carries a significant amount of freight to and from the Mississippi River in Arkansas to the Port of Catoosa near Tulsa, Oklahoma. This infrastructure project aims to keep traffic flowing through the system by preventing the merging of the Arkansas and White Rivers. If a breach occurred between the two rivers in the project area, navigation would halt for extended periods due to dangerous cross currents during high flows, as well as a loss of the navigation pool during low flows, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

“A convergence between the White and Arkansas rivers would come at a catastrophic cost to the 12 states and five international ports this system serves,” said Col. Damon M. Knarr, Commander of USACE’s Little Rock district.

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In 2018, the USACE estimated a total project cost of $187.65 million. The project is divided into two phases, and timing of the second phase will depend on funding. This project is critical to the success of other projects along the navigation system, such as a massive effort to deepen the entirety of a 445-mile section of the Arkansas River to 12 feet.

“This is the linchpin,” said Jay Townsend, Spokesman for USACE’s Little Rock district. “This is the project that’s holding it all up.”

30 Crossing Project
IIJA Funding: $95.3 million
Construction Start Date: 2020
End Date: 2025

The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department plans to let the 30 Crossing Project using a design-build delivery method to “harness private-sector creativity” and “ensure cost-effective and expedited delivery.” The project includes widening and reconstructing I-30 from Interstate 530 to Interstate 40 and I-40 from Pike Avenue to Highway 67/167 in North Little Rock and Little Rock. The department estimated in 2018 the full cost of improving safety and mobility in the corridor at $631.7 million, with most of the funding coming from the Connecting Arkansas Program.

Arkansas River Navigation Study
IIJA Funding: $92.6 million

Another McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System project, this one will deepen the navigation channel in the Arkansas River to 12 feet, from mostly 9 feet. The system includes 18 locks and dams, 13 in Arkansas. The new funding will enable the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction. USACE anticipates a total cost of $274.7 million. It has been planning the project for two decades.

Louisiana
The Biden Administration invested $8.2 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy in Louisiana, including:

  • $4.9 billion for transportation investments, including roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, and electric buses.
  • $991.4 million in grants, rebates, and other incentives to boost the use of clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing. These funds are in addition to incentives created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $573.9 million for climate resiliency and hardening against other threats.
  • $259.7 million for improving access to clean water and water infrastructure, including $107.9 million for replacing lead pipes and service lines.
Top Projects
Morganza to the Gulf Hurricane Protection System
IIJA Funding: $378.5 million

The project, located about 60 miles southwest of New Orleans in portions of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, will build 98 miles of grass-covered earthen levees, 22 floodgates on navigable waterways, 23 environmental water control structures, nine road gates, pump station protection, and a lock complex. The levees will tie into U.S. 90 near Gibson to the west and Highway 1 near Lockport to the east. The Gulf of Mexico is to the south.

USACE reports the project will protect the more than 200,000 people who live in the area, 1,700 square miles of farmland, industrial, and residential property, and the fragile marsh from hurricane storm surge. The storm surge has worsened due to the deterioration of the area’s marshes, which have been negatively affected by saltwater intrusion, land subsidence, and a lack of sediment deposits from the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The project cost is estimated at $6.5 billion ($10.2 billion fully funded through the life of the project).

“Louisiana communities have waited years, sometimes decades, to see progress on Army Corps projects,” said U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. “This funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure [Law] package is crucial to protect our state against future hurricanes and floods.”

Natural Graphite Active Anode Material Facility, Phase 3
IIJA Funding: $219.8 million
Construction Start Date: 2022
End Date: 2023

A battery materials processing and manufacturing facility in Vidalia received funding toward its third expansion. Construction has begun. The plant uses natural graphite to produce on-specification active anode material used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. Syrah Technologies will cost share $224.9 million for the expansion.

The expansion will increase the facility’s production capacity from 11,250 tons per annum to 45,000 tons per annum. The company is the first large-scale natural graphite active anode material producer in the United States. The expansion will help the country reduce its dependence on imported active anode material, and it will create an additional 120 jobs at the plant.

“This will make batteries produced in the United States more competitive worldwide, along the way employing lots of folks here in Louisiana,” Cassidy said. “It’s good for our state, good for our nation.”

I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Replacement Project
IIJA Funding: $150 million
Construction Start Date: 2025
End Date: 2030-2032

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development plans to replace the 6,607-foot-long Interstate 10 Calcasieu Bridge, constructed in 1951 before the Interstate Highway System and five years before Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. The bridge spans the Calcasieu River. It has exceeded its projected lifespan and deteriorated, necessitating a new bridge. It does not meet current design standards and is steep and without shoulders. Originally designed to carry 37,000 vehicles daily, the bridge has a current average daily vehicle count of 90,000. The projected replacement cost is $1.5 billion.

Mississippi
The Biden Administration invested $4.7 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy in Mississippi, including:

  • $2.5 billion for transportation investments, including roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, and electric buses.
  • $169.3 million in grants, rebates, and other incentives to boost the use of clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing. These funds are in addition to incentives created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $492.7 million for climate resiliency and hardening against other threats.
  • $183.3 million for improving access to clean water and water infrastructure, including $59.2 million for replacing lead pipes and service lines.
Top Projects
Improvements to the I-10 Freight Corridor
IIJA Funding: $60 million
Construction Start Date: 2024
End Date: 2027

The Interstate 10 freight corridor extends from the east to west coast. The section in southern Mississippi remains one of the most congested portions of this critical route. This project widens the interstate in Harrison County from four to six lanes and includes drainage improvements, construction of a sound wall in the Diamondhead area, and installation of an intelligent transportation system.

The project will improve access to cities along the Gulf of Mexico coast. The Mississippi Department of Transportation anticipates the project will reduce the crash rate in the area by 22 percent and will decrease pollution and noise.

“This funding and the project it supports will have a huge positive impact on South Mississippi residents and the 51,000 vehicles that travel I-10 each day,” said Tom King, former Chair of the Mississippi Transportation Commission. “This project will strengthen access to southern cities across the entire Gulf Coast region, providing greater opportunities for economic development as well as a more efficient flow of goods and services.”

Southern Railroad Restoration Project
IIJA Funding: $52 million

The Gloster Southern Railroad discontinued service in 2009 on a 35-mile segment of its track, and this funding will support reestablishing rail service. Funds will support final design, acquiring right-of-way, constructing various track-related improvements, upgrading certain grade crossings, and rehabilitating multiple bridges and culverts. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, “Restoring the rail line will help reduce emissions, foster economic development, and improve safety.” The railroad’s private partners will provide a 20 percent match.

“The revival of the Gloster railroad should be a true economic shot in the arm for this rural region of our state. It should restore an important development tool to support existing and new industries in the area,” said U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. “I commend town leaders, Gloster Southern Railroad, and their partners on submitting a compelling and successful application.”

SR 57 from I-10 to Vancleave
IIJA Funding: $40 million
Construction Start Date: 2023
End Date: 2027

Aiming to alleviate congestion and expand capacity on this hurricane evacuation route, the Mississippi Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to W.G. Yates and Sons Construction Co. of Jackson, Mississippi. Crews will remove trees, grade, drain, perform bridge work, and pave nine miles of State Road 57 from Interstate 10 to Vancleave. From I-10 to Gautier-Vancleave Road, crews will widen the road from two to four lanes. A new four-lane alignment for SR 57 will be constructed connecting it from Gautier-Vancleave Road to the Lake O’Pines area.

Oklahoma
The Biden Administration invested $5.5 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy in Oklahoma, including:

  • $3.3 billion for transportation investments, including roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, and electric buses.
  • $318.4 million in grants, rebates, and other incentives to boost the use of clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing. These funds are in addition to incentives created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $148.3 million for climate resiliency and hardening against other threats.
  • $235.4 million for improving access to clean water and water infrastructure, including $68.8 million for replacing lead pipes and service lines.
Top Projects
I-44 and US 75 Corridor Improvements Project
IIJA Funding: $85 million
Construction Start Date: 2024
End Date: 2027

This award represents the largest transportation grant Oklahoma had received as of January 2023. It will aid in the completion of improvements to the interchange of Interstate 44 and U.S. 75 in the Tulsa area. About 150,000 vehicles travel on the I-44 corridor in this area daily, including about 21,000 trucks.

“I-44 and U.S. 75 are vital travel, freight, and commuter corridors across the state, and this Mega Grant will help us complete much-needed safety and operational improvements at this highly traveled interchange,” Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Tim Gatz said.

The work will take place in phases. The three scheduled phases will cost $205 million and include flyover ramps; new bridges at the Arkansas River, West 51st Street, and West 61st Street; a new U.S. 75 frontage road; new sidewalks and a pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks; bike lanes on West 61st Street; and improvements to Skelly Drive. When complete, this project will reduce congestion, carbon dioxide emissions, and vehicle delays.

Broadband Infrastructure Deployment
IIJA Funding: $50 million

The project aims to improve access to remote work, telehealth services, and distance learning. It will install fiber and fixed wireless internet access to 2,784 unserved Native American households with broadband speeds of 100 Mbps symmetrical. The work will require construction of a last-mile aerial fiber network to serve tribal residences, businesses, and other institutions.

Tennessee
The Biden Administration invested $7 billion in public infrastructure and clean energy throughout Tennessee, including:

  • $4.5 billion for transportation investments, including roads, bridges, public transit, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, and electric buses.
  • $1.1 billion in grants, rebates, and other incentives to boost the use of clean energy, buildings, and manufacturing. These funds are in addition to incentives created by the Inflation Reduction Act.
  • $134 million for climate resiliency and hardening against other threats.
  • $319.3 million for improving access to clean water and water infrastructure, including $139 million for replacing lead pipes and service lines.
Top Projects - Western Tennessee
Memphis Innovation Corridor BRT
IIJA Funding: $46 million
Construction Start Date: 2023
End Date: 2027

The Memphis Area Transit Authority plans to start an 8.5-mile-long bus rapid transit line, connecting downtown Memphis with the Memphis Medical District and the University of Memphis. It will include 31 stops. A 1-mile-long lane will be constructed and used exclusively for bus lanes. Fare collection facilities, signaling, streetscapes, and pedestrian improvements are included. Capital costs are estimated at $89 million.

The transit authority estimates the buses will provide 5,600 daily linked trips on electrically powered buses. And in 2026, operational costs will be $1.96 million. The purpose is to link the activity centers and accommodate a growing population.

Crosstown Corridor Safety and Multi-Modal Enhancement Program
IIJA Funding: $25 million

The Memphis Area Transit Authority also received funding for a complete streets program and a bus rapid transit service along a 26-mile corridor. The authority anticipates the project will benefit residents and businesses in low-income and disadvantaged communities and minimize displacement.

Low or No Emission, Memphis Area Transit Authority
IIJA Funding: $22.3

In this award, the Memphis Area Transit Authority received funding to buy battery-electric buses and charging equipment. The money also will provide workforce development training for operating and maintaining the buses.

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