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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FHWA 58-11
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Contact: Nancy Singer
Tel: 202-366-0660

Federal Highway Administrator Joins State and Local Officials in Council Bluffs for Early Reopening of I-680

Emergency Relief Funding Assisted with Efforts to Reopen Interstate in 34 Days

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA - Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez today joined state and local officials for the early reopening of Interstate-680 in southwest Iowa that had been closed since mid-year because of flood damage.

"The Obama Administration is committed to helping Iowans recover from flood damage," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "The fact that this important road was reconstructed so quickly is a testament to the great things American workers can accomplish when we come together, and invest in job-creating transportation projects."

The three-mile section of I-680, from north of Council Bluffs west into Omaha, was virtually obliterated when excessive snow melt from the mountains of Montana and heavy rain throughout the upper Missouri River basin area resulted in historic flooding along the western border of the state starting May 25.

The reconstruction of this stretch of I-680 occurred in a just 34 days. The Interstate carries more than 19 million vehicles each day and is critical to Omaha airport and commuter traffic in Nebraska and Iowa. It serves as a regional traffic hub and important commercial trucking route.

"Businesses come to a standstill when transportation systems do not work," Administrator Mendez said. "We must invest in our infrastructure so people can get back and forth to work and school, and products can get to markets. With transportation investments, we have an opportunity to put people back to work at the same time, so it's a win-win."

Administrator Mendez lauded the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) for using incentive clauses in the contract that allowed I-680 to open earlier than planned. Shifts of workers kept the project moving forward for 14 hours or more per day, and sometimes around the clock, allowing the road to be completed almost two months ahead of schedule.

In July, the Department made $2 million in quick release emergency funds available to IDOT as a down payment on additional reimbursements for work done on federal-aid highways after the flooding damage, which was estimated at $45 million.

The cost of the restored section of I-680 is $19.2 million.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will provide the money that will reimburse the state and localities for the cost of repairs. FHWA's emergency relief program provides funds for the repair or reconstruction of roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters or catastrophic events.

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