Improving An Icon

July 6, 2022

By Mary Scott Nabers, Contributing Author 

For generations of Americans, the Interstate Highway System has been an icon, representing infrastructural achievement. However, the network of roadways has faced continuous use, aswell as declining upkeep and maintenance.

After decades of this, the skeletal fiber of infrastructure needs immediate attention and investment. Finally, there is funding to begin the process of upgrading the country’s infrastructure, and projects to refurbish, expand, and repair roadways are being launched rapidly.

The Hinckley Bridge Replacement project in Pine County, Minnesota, calls for replacement and repair of multiple bridges along a stretch of I-35. The work will include the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure, improvements to bridge safety, and modernization of bridge design. The construction phase has a projected cost of $25.6 million, which will involve many other facets designed to extend the useful life of roadways.

Another upcoming project in Minnesota is a four-phase plan to repair a segment of interstate that winds through Bloomington, Richfield, Edina, and Eden Prairie in Hennepin County. This project carries an estimated cost of $320 million, and construction is slated for 2023.

An I-5 project will promote connectivity between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. This roadwork has been categorized as a “mega infrastructure project.” Both states have already contributed $45 million to the project’s $90 million environmental assessment, and planning officials from the Washington side have committed $1 billion for I-5 bridge replacement work. Officials now anticipate that the project’s design will be finalized this summer.

Over the next three years, millions will be spent in Hardin County, Kentucky, to construct additional interchanges along I-65. An estimated cost of $6 million was announced, and then another $1.1 million was committed for design and right-of-way purchases.

Design work has begun on a project to replace part of I-375 in Detroit. Preliminary plans outline the development of an urban boulevard to replace an outdated segment of the I-375 freeway. The Michigan Department of Transportation recently reviewed the project’s conceptual design and found no significant environmental impact that might otherwise slow down the construction. Projects such as this one are just the first indications of increased roadway work in Michigan that will result from the governor’s pledge of $4.75 billion to fix 13,000 miles of roadway and hundreds of bridges.

The Champlain Parkway Construction project in Burlington, Vermont, is scoped for two phases of construction that will ultimately produce a new interstate connection. Following the project’s initial phase that includes $40 million in improved roadway segments, the latter phase of the project will connect that upgraded roadway to I-189.

Officials in North Carolina’s Rowan County approved funding for a project that will lay the groundwork for a new interstate interchange. The state’s Department of Transportation has estimated that the construction would cost $24 million.

The I-81 improvement plan calls for an investment of $4 billion to improve 325 miles of interstate across transportation districts in Virginia. The investment will ultimately fund more than 60 individual projects, divided among eight categories: road widening, shoulder widening, acceleration/deceleration extensions, truck climbing lanes, auxiliary lanes, curve improvements, operational improvements, and multimodal improvements. One of the I-81 improvement plan’s larger components is a road-widening project on the southbound segment of the interstate. This particular project, a part of the overall plan, involves widening a four-mile segment of interstate in the Strasburg township. Officials placed a cost estimate of $126 million on the project.

In Texas, work is underway on a finalized schematic and environmental study for two non-tolled managed lanes along I-35 in Austin. The I-35 Capital Express Central project is designed to ease congestion in a corridor of I-35 that ranks as the second-most congested highway in Texas. Following completion of the environmental study, the I-35 project will proceed to final design and then be advertised for the bidding process. Construction work is expected to cost a total of $4.9 billion and could be completed as early as 2025.

City leaders in El Paso will use a federal grant to fund design work on a deck plaza that will cover a portion of I-10. The plaza will cover I-10 in downtown with an over-arching layer of greenspace that is now being designed for recreational uses. This project is currently scheduled for the same time as Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Downtown 10 project, which will widen the same stretch of interstate roadway. The project entails an entirely separate cost of $750 million, which initially funds demolition of up to 30 structures to make room for the widened interstate.

Officials in Kansas City, Missouri, are spearheading a project that shares many similarities with the El Paso project. Plans are underway to build a $160 million deck over a stretch of I-670 in the city’s downtown region. The deck covering the interstate segment will feature 5.5 acres of greenspace with various trails and recreational areas. Local officials involved in planning the project are estimating that it could generate a $490 million economic impact.

Over the next few months, approximately $69 billion in infrastructure funding for federal highway repair will result in an incredible number of new roadway and bridge projects. There is no doubt that government leaders are focused on rebuilding one of America’s most treasured assets – the interstate system.

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