The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) recommended 26 projects to be awarded a total of $1.54 billion in federal funds as part of the FY18 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program. USDOT had up to $1.56 billion available for grants.
The awards consist of $1.45 billion in large project grants and $82.54 million in small project grants. Two rail specific projects were recommended for $148.2 million in grants, but another four, totaling $66 million, include grade separation elements.
Illinois Department of Transportation was recommended for a $132 million award for a group of projects known as the 75th Street Corridor Improvements and Argo Connections. The three components are part of the Chicago Region Environment and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program.
The 75th Street Corridor project is the largest in the CREATE Program and the group of projects recommended for the INFRA grant include:
- The Forest Hill flyover, which consists of a new north-south flyover structure eliminating conflicts between north-south and eastwest train movements at the Forest Hill Junction;
- The 71st Street Grade Separation will separate the Western Avenue rail corridor from 71st street;
- The Argo Connections component will improve connections at the Argo and Canal junction, address the 87th Street chokepoint, and increase capacity at Argo yard.
According to the award summary, the project reduces opportunities for conflict and rail network congestion for more than 2 million railcars per year, generating significant safety and mobility benefits.
The Ohio Rail Development Commission was recommended for a $16.25 million grant for the Ohio River Rail Improvement Project. The project will improve approximately 30 miles of rail along the banks of the Ohio River in Jefferson and Belmont County and will improve capacity at two rail yards along the line.
Four additional highway projects to be recommended for INFRA grants that incorporate rail elements include:
- $25 million to the Utah Department of Transportation for the Northwest Quadrant Freight Mobility Project, which will include the construction of a grade-separated crossing above three mainline tracks and the addition of a new interchange on the Salt Lake Garfield and Western Railway.
- $21 million to the South Dakota Department of Transportation to reconstruct the interchange of I-90 with Veteran’s Parkway, which will include two grade separations.
- $14 million to the Wyoming Department of Transportation for the Rock Springs I-80 Interchange and Interchange Road project, which will include a new grade-separated crossing.
- $6 million to the University of Alabama for the 2nd Avenue Connectivity Corridor Project, which will construct a bridge over an existing rail line.
USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao issued a letter June 5 to the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works with notice of the projects to be awarded and the proposed grant amounts.