Have a story idea
Have a story idea? Send it to us here.
Source : Simon Hurry, Unsplash
September 22, 2022
Author : Patty Allen
The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded funds totaling $1.5 billion through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program to assist 26 highway, multimodal freight, and train projects around the country.
Statutorily known as the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Projects program, the USDOT developed INFRA in 2017 to pursue a grant program established by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation or FAST Act of 2015.
The agency revised the INFRA program's project evaluation criteria to align with national and regional economic vitality objectives, and to leverage additional non-federal funding, including public-private partnerships.
The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, or IIJA, increased funding for the INFRA program by more than 50 percent to help satisfy the enormous demand for government funding to support nationwide projects. USDOT highlighted in a statement that over the next five years, the IIJA would contribute about $8 billion to the INFRA program, including the $1.5 billion made available in this round of funding.
The IIJA further broadened the scope of INFRA project eligibility to include wildlife crossings, marine highway corridors, and surface transportation projects located within or functionally connected to an international border crossing.
To remedy chronic underinvestment in these areas, the USDOT provided big dollars to rural areas, historically disadvantaged communities, and areas of persistent poverty. Rural projects will receive around 43 percent of awards, above the statutory threshold of 25 percent of INFRA funding.
The projects chosen for funding are spread throughout 23 states and Puerto Rico. 13 of the funds were awarded to state DOTs, with the remainder going to cities, counties, and other bodies.
“Today we are announcing transformative investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and rail to improve the way Americans get around and help lower the costs of shipping goods,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg explained.
Mitch Landrieu, the White House infrastructure implementation coordinator, said that the selected projects “are in every corner of the country."
The competition for DOT discretionary awards is intense, and the most recent INFRA round is no exception. Christopher Coes, assistant secretary for transportation policy at the DOT, stated that over 250 applications for over $26.5 billion in financing were submitted.
Cincinnati, for example, will receive $127.1 million through the INFRA program to construct a new Western Hills Viaduct. In comparison, New York City will receive $110 million for a new 1-million-square-foot intermodal complex at the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx.
In California a new toll road and facilities at the Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry in San Diego County will receive the largest INFRA award of the current fiscal year, $150 million.
The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $104.7 million for a Detroit neighborhood connectivity project. The plan aims to convert I-375 into a "slower-speed boulevard." It also entails realigning ramps and removing bridges and pump stations for stormwater runoff.
Each of the two projects will get $100 million: improvements to approximately eight miles of the Interstate-70 Mountain Corridor in Clear Creek County, Colorado, and widening and other improvements to I-85 in Cleveland and Gaston counties, North Carolina.
New Mexico is receiving $45 million to connect the Santa Teresa Port of Entry with State Road 273 in Dona Ana County. The project will relieve traffic congestion by providing a direct route for trucks between I-10 in El Paso and a neighboring Union Pacific intermodal terminal.
Another land border crossing receives $25 million. The money will pay for commercial inspection booths, docks, roads, parking, and sidewalks in rural McAllen, Texas.
The southbound inspection facilities will be upgraded, and new northbound inspection facilities will be constructed. The objective is to facilitate commercial freight movement at the border and build technology for nonintrusive inspection.
To streamline its discretionary grant programs, the USDOT has implemented a "common application" through which states, cities, and other entities may apply for any or all of three types of grants: INFRA, Rural Surface Transportation Grants, and National Infrastructure Project Assistance, which DOT has dubbed the "Mega" program.
In the next months, DOT will announce the winners of the rural and Mega competitions.
Follow Contractor News for the latest update on government grants and projects.