AASHTO Journal

USDOT Sends Congress List of 10 Proposed INFRA Freight-Related Grant Awards

​The U.S. Department of Transportation told Congress that it proposes to issue nearly $79 million to 10 freight-related roadway, rail and port infrastructure projects, under a Highway Trust Fund program lawmakers created in 2015.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao notified House and Senate authorizing committees of the selections in an Aug. 2 letter, which triggered a 60-day period in which Congress could vote to disapprove the list if it finds a project objectionable.

Congress created the grant program for nationally significant freight and highway projects in the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. It authorized five years of specific funding levels and included the process under which the USDOT must submit the list for congressional approval before releasing any of the funds.

capitol0816.jpgThe program is called INFRA by the Trump administration, for "Infrastructure for Rebuilding America," and before that it was known as Fastlane.

In her notification to Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., Chao said the USDOT proposed the following awards:

-$12.3 million to La Plate County, Colo., for a project to realign 1.7 miles of U.S. 550, in a project that includes automated anti-icing systems and a southbound truck climbing grade for a "critical route" a for freight trucks moving between Colorado and New Mexico.

-$8.67 million to Taylor County, Fla., to upgrade the freight-hauling Georgia & Florida Railway to improve grade crossings, harden bridges and resurface tracks to allow faster train speeds.

-$9.85 million for intermodal improvements for moving cargo between various modes at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.

-$7.89 million to the Maine DOT to upgrade 22 bridges on the state-owned Maine Northern Railway, so that it can increase cargo-hauling capacity for regional shippers.

-$5 million for a project to replace and update ferry docking and berthing facilities in Ludington, Mich., and Manitowoc, Wis.

-$7.54 million to help the North Central Mississippi Regional Railroad Authority improve 90 miles of freight rail tracks and a bridge.

-$5 million for the New Hampshire DOT to replace the load-restricted Rodgers' Rangers Bridge, which is used by many logging trucks and carries U.S. Route 2 over the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont.

-$5.72 million for a project in Akron, Ohio, to build bridges that will separate Evans Avenue road traffic from two heavily used rail crossings.

-$7 million to the Texas DOT to repair the Presidio-Ojinaga International Rail Bridge and rehabilitate about 72 miles of the state-owned South Orient Railroad from the U.S./Mexico border to the Paisano Junction near Alpine, Texas.

-$9.9 million to the Port of Moses Lake in partnership with the Washington State DOT to help complete construction of its Northern Columbia Basin Rail Project.

For fiscal 2017, lawmakers had authorized a total of $850 million in such grants, with 10 percent reserved for small projects. The USDOT announced in June that it would combine most of the 2017 funds with those for 2018 in a new solicitation, and is taking applications for them through Nov. 2, but would soon separately propose its list for 2017 small-project awards.

However, it also noted that since the grant program levels are subject to annual obligation limits for federal-aid highway funds, the effective total for this year was down to $788.8 million, of which $78.8 million would be available for small projects.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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