Mineral Independent: Major federal grant awarded for I-90 repairs

by Monte Turner

This past summer, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester wrote a letter of support for I-90 repair and bridge funding in Western Montana.

“I-90 represents a critical transportation route for Mineral County and the surrounding region as it is the only east-west highway in the area,” the letter stated. “When it is caused to be closed, nearby towns, like the disadvantaged communities of Alberton, Superior, St. Regus, DeBorgia, Haugan and Saltese become extremely isolated. This project would address several evaluation criteria as noted in the grant description, including but not limited to: safety, resiliency, economic impact, and overall state of good repair.”

This letter for grant funding was written Aug. 8 of this year and was sent directly to Pete Buttigieg, secretary U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Last week, the announcement was made that the funding request was approved for $31.97 million. The funding comes from the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant program, which Tester helped establish through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“Many of Montana’s aging roads, bridges, and highways are overdue for some serious maintenance – and repairing them is critically important to ensure folks can get from place to place safely,” said Tester. “I’m proud to have secured this funding to repair and replace vital infrastructure along I-90 in Mineral County, and I’m looking forward to seeing these critical updates connect these rural communities, improve interstate safety, and lower costs in Western Montana.”

Tester touted that through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Montana will receive $2.82 billion for Montana’s roads, highways and bridges; $2.5 billion to complete all authorized Indian water rights settlements; $1 billion to complete all authorized rural water projects through the Bureau of Reclamation; $65 billion to deploy broadband to areas across the country that lack internet access and additionally make online connectivity affordable; and $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk nationwide, among others. 

Tester also worked to ensure that all iron, steel, and construction materials used for these projects must be made in America.