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AASHTO Journal

Arizona DOT Touts Success in Competitive Grants for Infrastructure Projects

Facing limited transportation funding, the Arizona Department of Transportation is telling residents there that it has been able to build some infrastructure projects because it built a track record of winning competitive federal grants.

Since 2012, ADOT said, it has received a total of $43.6 million through 15 competitive grants, most of them administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Most of the money, it added, came from two awards under the USDOT's infrastructure grant program called TIGER for "Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery."

adot.jpg"Advancing and protecting Arizona's transportation system in the current funding environment calls for innovative approaches," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "Our track record of success on competitive grants has helped create value beyond funding available through traditional sources."

In a March 2 announcement totaling up its money-winning grant achievements, the Arizona department gave some examples of how it used those funds:

"An upgrade to high-efficiency LED lighting in a US 60 tunnel east of the Phoenix area. A long-sought bridge to carry SR 347 over railroad tracks in Maricopa. Innovative monitoring technology transmitting real-time data on the structural health of four remote interstate bridges."

In 2012, it said, ADOT received a $21.6 million award toward reconstruction of Virgin River Bridge No. 6 along Interstate 15 in far northwest Arizona, the largest amount awarded in that round of TIGER grants. It also noted that its project competed among 703 total applications seeking $10.2 billion from an available funding pool of about $500 million.

Last year, ADOT received a TIGER grant of $15 million toward construction of a railroad overpass on State Route 347, the only direct route between the Maricopa and Phoenix. That project was among 627 eligible applications worth $10.1 billion.

ADOT said it has also been winning demonstration grants from Federal Highway Administration's Accelerated Innovation Deployment program, which are intended to help speed adoption of innovation across the country.

Those included $1 million to add energy-efficient, longer-lasting LED lighting to the Queen Creek Tunnel along US 60 between Globe and Superior; $1 million to help build a Mohave County bridge using prefabricated elements that expedite the project and minimize the length of road closures; and $768,000 to add structural health monitoring devices to four Interstate 15 bridges.

Many of the grants require a state match, and ADOT said that for the $43.6 million in grants received since 2012 Arizona provided $49.8 million in matching funds.

George Delgado, who became the agency's grants administrator in 2012, said some keys to ADOT's success include staying on top of what's available through a federal grant opportunities website and the Federal Register. It also involves drawing up applications for projects that address compelling needs and present clear economic benefits locally and statewide.

"Most important is a commitment throughout this agency to being nimble and decisive when it comes to grants," Delgado said. "The high level of collaboration we have throughout ADOT allows us connect the right projects with the right grant opportunities."

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

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