Last week, U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Biden administration will award $905.25 million to 24 projects in 18 states under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.
These grants advance the administration’s priorities of rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating jobs by funding highway and rail projects of regional and national economic significance.
“These timely investments in our infrastructure will create jobs and support regional economies, while helping to spur innovation, confront climate change, and address inequities across the country,” said Buttigieg.
INFRA grants were selected based on several criteria. In addition to prioritizing projects that would improve local economies, create jobs, and meet all statutory requirements, for the first time in DOT’s history, grants were considered by how they would address climate change, environmental justice, and racial equity.
Further, DOT prioritized funding to rural areas to address historic underinvestment. Approximately 44% of proposed funding will be awarded to rural projects, which exceeds the statutory requirements for rural projects set by Congress by 19%.
INFRA projects were also rated on the extent that they applied innovative technology and whether they could deliver projects in a cost-effective manner.
Demand for INFRA grants far exceeded available funds. DOT evaluated 157 eligible applications from 42 states, as well as Guam. Applicants collectively requested approximately $6.8 billion in grant funds — more than seven times the funding available.
The proposed awards include:
- The Georgia Ports Authority will be awarded $46,868,000 to build a new inland container port along the I-85/I-985 corridor in an unincorporated area of Gainesville, which will be linked with the Port of Savannah by direct, 324-mile intermodal freight rail service.
- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be awarded $44 million to modernize an approximately 2.9-mile section of roadway at the north entrance of Port Newark and the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal.
- The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority will be awarded $49 million to construct a new approximately 1,056 linear ft. multi-use berth that will be used to accommodate roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) vessels.
- The City of Dubuque will be awarded $5 million to increase capacity and make improvements to the Gavilon marine port and rail facility at Dove Harbor terminal at the Port of Dubuque.
- The South Jersey Port Corporation will be awarded $9 million to: rehabilitate an approximately 150-linear-foot bulkhead and extend it to approximately 500 linear feet; dredge the new berth; acquire an adjacent approximate 6-acre former glass manufacturing facility; and perform site preparation, improvements, and refurbish a multimodal rail connection.
As required under the FAST Act, Congress will have 60 days to review the Department’s proposed project awardees. After the 60-day review period, the Department is free to begin obligating funding.