The U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has announced the award of $1.5 billion from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant program for highway, multimodal freight and rail projects.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law increased funding for the INFRA program by more than 50% to help meet high demand for federal funding to support projects across the country. Over the next five years, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide approximately $8 billion for the INFRA program, including the $1.5 billion made available in this round of funding.
“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,” said Buttigieg. “Using funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are able to support more excellent community-led projects this year than ever before.”
Thanks to a new, streamlined process created by the U.S. DOT to reduce the burden on state and local entities, applicants were able to submit one application for three different grant programs, including INFRA and two new programs, the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (RURAL), and the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program (Mega). The recipients of RURAL and Mega grants will be announced in the coming months.
In addition to prioritizing projects that will deliver national or regional economic benefits, INFRA projects also were evaluated based on safety, how they supported freight movement and job creation, their efforts to address climate change and resiliency, impacts on equity and quality of life, how they applied innovative technology, their cost effectiveness, and demonstrated project readiness. Further, U.S. DOT awarded a significant amount of funding to rural areas, historically disadvantaged communities, and areas of persistent poverty to address historic under-investment in these communities. Approximately 43% of awards will go to rural projects, exceeding the statutory requirement to award rural projects 25% of INFRA funding.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also expanded INFRA eligibility to include, for example, wildlife crossing projects, marine highway corridor projects, and surface transportation projects located within or functionally connected to an international border crossing.
The projects below are a few examples of this year’s INFRA grant projects recipients:
Rockport Bridge Rehabilitation Freight Rail Project: In the Green River Area Development District that spans Ohio and Muhlenberg counties in Kentucky, U.S. DOT is investing in the rehabilitation of the 100-year-old Rockport Railroad Bridge that serves as a vital link for the transportation of commodities such as chemicals, grain, coal, lumber, steel, and petroleum along the 280-mile railway. Commodities would be diverted to truck if the bridge were to be closed.
The project will replace the deck of the bridge and upgrade the electrical and mechanical components that allow the bridge to be raised to accommodate river traffic.
Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Project: In San Diego, Calif., U.S. DOT is investing in a project that strengthens the supply chain by constructing a new road (State Route 11) and Port of Entry facility at Otay Mesa. The new Port of Entry will provide an alternative for nearly 3,600 trucks that cross the existing Otay Mesa and Tecate Ports of Entries daily, which are operating at capacity. The project facilitates freight movement across borders with destinations at nearby distribution centers and warehouses, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Inland Empire’s mega-distribution centers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The project sponsor will establish a local hire agreement targeting disadvantaged groups, as well as a pre-apprenticeship program.
The full list of proposed awards can be found on the Department of Transportation’s website at: https://www.transportation.gov/grants/infra-2022-fact-sheets
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