NewsOn6.com

TULSA, OK -- The federal government has awarded the Oklahoma Department of Transportation approximately $50 million in grant money through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery [TIGER] program for the replacement of the westbound I-244 bridge over the Arkansas River.

The project is expected to cost about $132 million.

Oklahoma has already committed $37 million toward the project. And with the TIGER grant, ODOT says it will be able to begin the first phase of the project.

The bridge project encompasses a multi modal bridge structure for interstate, passenger rail, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

"This is great news for Oklahoma. We are extremely excited about the opportunity to move this critical interstate bridge forward in our construction program. The goal is to expedite the construction of the westbound I-244 bridge which contains the inter modal aspects with rail and pedestrian components," Gary Ridley, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation said.

ODOT says the existing I-244 Arkansas River bridge is categorized as 'structurally deficient' and the proposed new bridge will be designed to allow for both wide shoulders and additional lane openings when the highway system it connects to is widened for higher carrying capacity.

The proposed bridge would carry three through lanes, one dedicated entrance/exit lane and 12-foot shoulders in each direction.

ODOT also says the bridge would have a dedicated bicycle/pedestrian river crossing facility with new lighting, signs and pathways.