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USDOT Awards Mega Grants to I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Replacement, I-10 Freight Corridor Improvements, and I-44 & US-75 Corridor Improvements

by: Jessica Hoover
I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge
I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge
I-10 Freight Corridor Improvements Project
I-10 Freight Corridor Improvements Project
I-44 & US-75 Corridor Improvements Project
I-44 & US-75 Corridor Improvements Project
The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded nearly $1.2 billion to nine projects across the country through the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) discretionary grant program, made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Mega grant program funds projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs and will invest a total of $5 billion into the United States’ infrastructure through 2026.

"Some infrastructure projects are so large and complex that they defy traditional funding systems — and so significant that they become iconic parts of the American landscape,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “After receiving over 100 applications, we are proud to fund these nine infrastructure megaprojects across the country to create jobs, strengthen our supply chains, expand our economy, and renew America’s built landscape.”

In the Construction News area, the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (DOTD) was awarded $150 million for the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Replacement Project; the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) was awarded $60 million for the I-10 Freight Corridor Improvements Project; and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) was awarded $85 million for the I-44 & US-75 Corridor Improvements Project.

I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Replacement Project
Constructed before the Interstate Highway System, the existing I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, is over 70 years old and is structurally and functionally deficient, resulting in significant freight bottlenecks. The bridge is projected to handle over 99,000 crossings by 2042, more than double the current design threshold.

“The bridge is safe, but by far it is not to the design standards of today. It's over capacity, it's steep, it doesn't have certain elements of safety such as shoulders or lane width, it has a height restriction,” said former DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson. “It's actually more costly for us to maintain those types of structures as opposed to building new ones that will ultimately benefit the entire traveling public, both consumers as well as the commercial trucking industry. It is long overdue to modernize our infrastructure. ... This bridge predates our Interstate System, and we need to modernize it and extract as much value from our infrastructure as possible.”

The estimated $1.5 billion I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge Project will extend from the I-10/I-210 west interchange to east of the Ryan Street exit ramp on the east side of the bridge. Funding from the Mega grant will help design and construct the Calcasieu River Bridge and the interstate mainline; improve and reconfigure a segment of LA 378 (Sampson Street) from I-10 to Sulphur Avenue; provide three travel lanes and one auxiliary lane in each direction; and construct shoulders and center barriers, a lower approach incline, increased overheard clearance, and improved interchanges.

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The new bridge will relieve congestion and improve regional mobility, supply chain efficiency, and safety. In addition, increasing capacity on the bridge and strengthening its structural resilience will make disaster evacuation and emergency response faster and safer.

A workforce agreement will be created for the project that includes ways to target jobs and training opportunities to underserved communities. DOTD estimates the project will create 16,120 jobs and generate over $800 million in benefits. Design and construction on this project is estimated to take five to seven years to complete, with construction estimated to begin by early 2025.

I-10 Freight Corridor Improvements Project
The existing I-10 Freight Corridor currently experiences significant traffic congestion and mobility delays. With the help of the $60 million Mega grant, MDOT will address these issues by widening I-10 from four to six lanes from just west of Diamondhead to just east of County Farm Road in Harrison County, where an existing six-lane segment ends. Widening the roadway will improve traffic flow in a heavily used commercial and freight corridor, support economic development, and create new jobs for Mississippians.

The project also includes intelligent transportation system (ITS) improvements from approximately 1.5 miles west of the SR 603/43 interchange to approximately 2 miles east of US 49; construction of a sound wall in the Diamondhead area; and drainage improvements.

“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, 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.”

MDOT also expects this project to reduce the project area crash rate by 22 percent, along with improving overall energy efficiency and reducing pollution and noise. The department anticipates work to begin late in 2023 or early 2024, with the project taking approximately three years to complete.

I-44 & US-75 Corridor Improvements Project
The I-44 & US-75 interchange experiences recurrent congestion and poor safety that makes the corridor a bottleneck, affecting supply chains and reducing access to job opportunities in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Mega grant, which is the largest transportation grant Oklahoma has been awarded in its history, will help ODOT fund three phases of already scheduled construction projects around the interchange. Construction on work packages 2 and 3 are anticipated to begin in late 2023, and work package 5 is estimated to begin in 2024. The three projects total $205 million in improvements, including:
  • Completing flyover ramps
  • New bridges at the Arkansas River, West 51st Street, and West 61st Street
  • A new US-75 frontage road
  • Reconstruction of Skelly Drive
  • Improvements to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure
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“This is exciting and welcome news for the Tulsa area and the state of Oklahoma,” said Tim Gatz, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation. “I-44 and US-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.”

The improvements support replacing and upgrading the most outdated, unsafe, and congested elements of Tulsa’s I-44 corridor that carries almost 150,000 vehicles daily, including about 21,000 trucks. ODOT estimates that the project will reduce crashes along the corridor by an estimated 45 percent.

By reducing congestion and improving travel time reliability, this project will eliminate the bottleneck, expand access to jobs, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and eliminate excess vehicle delay. During the construction phase, the project is predicted to generate the equivalent of 1,468 short-term direct jobs that on average pay 12 percent more than the statewide average.

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