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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Buttigieg: "There's a clear public safety benefit to having our roads and bridges in good shape"

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The city of Chattanooga, Tenn., is receiving a $25 million federal grant through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Chattanooga RAISE Grants.

The money will be used to renovate the Wilcox Boulevard Bridge, which has seen significant amounts of deterioration during the past 70 years, according to News Channel 9. Following an inspection, the bridge was met with calls for a restricted vehicle weight limit. Chattanooga has banned emergency vehicles, firetrucks and other large freight vehicles from using the bridge for the time being.

"There's a clear public safety benefit to having our roads and bridges in good shape because it does directly impact response time for emergency vehicles," U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, according to News Channel 9.

The new bridge will decrease emergency response times from 17 minutes to five minutes, as reported by News Channel 9.

"This is extremely important for us," Chattanooga Fire Chief Phil Hyman said, News Channel 9 reported. "Prior to this bridge being de-rated, we had firetrucks going across this on a daily basis to provide emergency service to our community. You think about somebody having a heart-related issue just across the bridge, and we're having to travel all the way around to get to them to provide service or provide them help."

The bridge is one of more than 160 initiatives backed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in August, according to News Channel 9.

Buttigieg expects the bridge design to evolve with time, despite the project being expected to take years to complete, News Channel 9 reported.

"We're excited to get these funds moving, to make sure it's not just numbers on a page, but a difference you're going to see in the community," Buttigieg said, according to News Channel 9.

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