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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Office of the Secretary, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, DC 20590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 4, 2002
Contact: Bill Outlaw
Telephone: 202-366-0660
FHWA 22-02

Bush Administration Pledges Downpayment of $3 Million Toward Rebuilding of I-40 Bridge in Oklahoma

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will immediately commit an initial $3 million in federal emergency relief funds to the state of Oklahoma as part of the federal government's efforts to help the state rebuild the I-40 Bridge in eastern Oklahoma.

"Repairing the I-40 Bridge over the Arkansas River as quickly as possible is a priority for our Administration," Secretary Mineta said. "We will assist the state of Oklahoma in every way to minimize the interruptions on this important Interstate route in America's heartland. I-40 is one of this nation's busiest east-west routes, and we will continue working closely with the state of Oklahoma to ensure that the bridge is reconstructed quickly."

"President Bush and Secretary Mineta's highest transportation priority is to assure the mobility, safety and security of those traveling on our nation's transportation system," FHWA Administrator Mary E. Peters said. "We are helping Oklahoma to rebuild the bridge as quickly as possible by using the most innovative contracting practices and construction techniques available today."

These innovative contacting practices and construction techniques could enable the state of Oklahoma to reconstruct the bridge in about half the normal six-month time.

The I-40 Bridge, which runs over the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, OK, was struck on the morning of May 26 by a barge that veered several hundred feet from the river's navigational channel and into the bridge. The impact caused the collapse of four of the approach spans of the bridge. At least 14 people were killed.

FHWA emergency relief funds are provided after the President or a Governor issues a formal emergency proclamation and the state files a preliminary damage assessment for its highways and bridges on the federal-aid system. Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating issued a proclamation on May 28.

The funds reimburse the state for the damage repair work that is already completed and provides funding for the remaining damage repair work to correct major or unusual damage to federal-aid highways. Eligible repair work includes reconstructing damaged bridges and pavement surfaces, establishing detours, removing slides and debris, and replacing signs, lighting and guardrails.

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