November 25, 2020
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The U.S. Department of Transportation noted on June 18 that it plans to issue $906 million to fund 20 projects in 20 states via its Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA discretionary grant program; funds being funneled largely through state departments of transportation.

[Above photo by the USDOT.]

USDOT said in a statement that applications for this round of INFRA grant program funding – established by the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation or FAST Act – were evaluated by a team of more than two dozen and selected based on “established criteria to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals.”

The agency noted that Congress will have 60 days to review USDOT proposed awards and after the 60-day review period, USDOT is free to begin obligating funding.

USDOT added that 53 percent of this round of proposed INFRA grants will be awarded to rural projects, with six awards totaling $293 million being made to projects that are at least partially located in an Opportunity Zone, while several other projects are located in areas near Opportunity Zones.

Some of the largest awards to transportation projects for this round of INFRA grant funding include:

  • $135 million to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to construct an 8.3-mile stretch of elevated highway from Leeville Bridge to Golden Meadow. Dr. Shawn Wilson, Louisiana DOTD director, noted in a statement that LA 1 plays a vital role in the economy, as it services 17 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and is the only roadway leading to Port Fourchon, which handles nearly 90 percent of deep-water gas and petroleum extraction from the Gulf of Mexico.
  • $71.4 million to the Mississippi Department of Transportation to complete the construction of the 15.6-mile Greenville Bypass, which will carry US 82 from near the Greenville Bridge over the Mississippi River to Leland, east of Greenville. “The Greenville Bypass will improve safety throughout the Mississippi Delta by providing a route for freight traffic to efficiently move goods around the Greenville area without traveling through the city,” explained Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons in a statement. “Completion of this bypass not only promotes regional economic development and growth by sustaining and creating jobs, but also keeps our roads safer in and around the City of Greenville.”
  • $60.7 million to the Colorado Department of Transportation to implement a series of safety improvements to I-70 between mile post 180 and 190 in Eagle County; a stretch of highway known as the “Vail Pass.” “One of the core strategies of our state’s transportation plan is to focus investments on key arteries that move people and goods through our economy, like I-70,” noted Shoshana Lew, Colorado DOT’s executive director, in a statement. “This grant will help us achieve that vision.”
  • $55.15 million to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to widen 11 miles of the Mountain Parkway from two to four lanes between the KY 191 overpass and the KY 205 interchange. “Moving forward with construction on the Wolfe County segment will bring the Mountain Parkway Expansion one step closer to closing the only gap in a 400-mile, four-lane, high-speed corridor for commerce and mobility across Kentucky,” explained Jim Gray, KYTC secretary, in a statement. “Closing this gap is an investment in safety, in future economic development and most of all, in Kentuckians.”
  • $40 million to the Arkansas Department of Transportation to reconstruct and improve two sections of U.S. 67 northeast of Little Rock. ARDOT officials say the grant will allow all the remaining U.S. Highway 67 improvements to be undertaken in one project instead of two. “Our plan now is to award one project in late 2021 for all the work between Main Street and Vandenberg Boulevard in Jacksonville, and the work from Highway 5 to Highway 89 in Cabot,” noted Lorie Tudor, director of the Arkansas DOT, in a statement. “That will save money and it will decrease the overall impact to the motoring public. This grant is providing multiple benefits.”
  • $11.2 million to the Tennessee Department of Transportation to install approximately 143 miles of fiber optic communications and deploy intelligent transportation system devices on I-40 between Memphis and Nashville; allowing the agency and partner agencies to continuously monitor roadway conditions and dramatically improve response times to incidents and weather-related emergencies, the Tennessee DOT said in a statement.
editor@aashto.org

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