KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – A $90 million U.S. Department of Transportation infastructure grant is going to help support more launch activites and space tourism at Florida's spaceport in Brevard County.
Secretary Elaine Chao announced Thursday that Space Florida, Florida's spaceport authority, will recieve the grant money to replace the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Indian River Bridge, widen Space Commerce Way and rehabilitate a 3.7-mile stretch of NASA Parkway West.
The bridge links Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and State Road 405. The bridge will be replaced with new, twin high-level bridges.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., applauded the funding, saying replacing the aging bridge will provide critical support for the transportation of significant payloads and the increasing launch cadence.
"As the existing bridge nears the end of its service life, it is critical that we replace the Indian River Bridge to support the increased activity and the ambitious future mission launch schedules by commercial and government entities on Florida’s Space Coast,” Rubio said.
The $90 million is part of the DOT's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.
“This significant federal investment is part of an overall program to repair and restore America’s bridges and highways to enhance safety and economic growth,” Chao said in a news release.
Rubio said he worked with Space Florida, NASA, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization to apply for the grant.
Widening Space Commerce Way will allow oversized vehicles to transport hardware to launch sites, as well as provide better access to visitors at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
"We cannot achieve our greatest aspirations in space without first providing the necessary infrastructure to ensure that Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral can accommodate our booming space economy," Rubio said.
The project is expected to take about five years to complete and a total cost is yet to be determined, according to Space Florida.