The Department of Transportation recently awarded $10,365,000 to repair bridges on US Highway 191 in the Navajo Nation under the Competitive Highway Bridge Program (CHBP). In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, Congress appropriated $225 million for grants under the CHBP for low-population density states.

“The project will improve the condition of 2 bridges in poor condition and rehabilitate 2 bridges in fair condition reducing the risk of scour,” the Department of Transportation explains the project in Arizona in a Notice of Grant Award.“The anticipated cost savings of the project are substantial at 14.2%. The proposed schedule indicated the projects ability to meet the required dates for obligation and expenditure of funds. It will use innovative techniques to accelerate bridge construction. The project will improve and maintain the reliability of the transportation route though the Navajo Nation. The bundled project will achieve efficiencies through reduced mobilization and the utilization of similar design details.”

In a recent press release, Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) took credit for the influx of federal funds.

“These bridges along U.S. 191 provide critical access to health care, schools, and national treasures like Canyon de Chelly National Monument,” McSally said. “A bridge closure could mean the difference between life and death in the event of an emergency situation. This is money will go a long ways towards improving the safety of our roads and highways.”

The press release also mentioned a letter dated August 16 that McSally sent to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. In the letter, McSally requests $14 million in funding under the CHBP for the bridges along US 191.

“These four bridges provide access to some of the country’s most scenic and well-known landscapes, including Canyon de Chelly National Monument,” wrote McSally. “This portion of US 191, classified by ADOT as a Rural Major Collector, is critical to the interconnection of schools, healthcare, Navajo Chapters, and businesses. The only available alternative in the event of a bridge closure is a 232 mile detour — an impractical burden rural residents.”