On August 11, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that over $2.2B would be awarded from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program to award applicants. The amount is higher this year as a result of an influx of funds from what is now called the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Projects include everything from bicycle paths to port improvements. Grants are for capital investment and planning that support roads, bridges, transit, rail, and intermodal.
Over 150 grants were made based on the following criteria: safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, partnership and collaboration, state of good repair, and mobility and community connectivity. Awards were divided equally between rural and urban areas.
Almost two-thirds of the projects are located in disadvantaged areas. The largest award is limited to $25M, and according to the law, each state can receive a maximum of $341.25M. This year every state had at least one approved project.
Several awards included workforce development aspects.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) report is 178 pages long, and unfortunately, projects are not described in alphabetical order; but somewhere in there will be at least one award for your state. Examples of the wide range of projects are as follows.
Thanks to Nancy Pelosi, $23M is going to the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) for safety upgrades along Howard Street. This project will turn a congested artery into a walkable and bicycle-friendly thoroughfare, by building protected bike lanes, raised crosswalks, and improved traffic signals.
Across the country, awarded funds will buy 25 battery-electric buses for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA), and Elizabeth, New Jersey will receive $5M to assess the feasibility of constructing a ferry terminal and establishing a ferry service between NYC and Elizabeth.
Berlin, New Hampshire, a town of 10,000 people, receives about seven feet of snow annually. Their grant of $19.5M will go toward the installation of a snow melt system and improvements of roads, sidewalks, and parking areas downtown.
Increased capacity through the addition of a new berth at the Port of Tampa will create hundreds of jobs and reduce emissions – by $12.6M.
In Chattanooga, TN, a grant of $25M will be used to replace the Wilcox Boulevard Bridge. The current bridge has severely deteriorated.
In Lafourche, LA, a pontoon bridge over Bayou Lafourche will be replaced, cutting travel time between Lockport and Larose in half. This will allow better access to new employment opportunities. -$2.6M
In North Carolina, a grant will reconstruct about 28 bridges in six counties. This will result in significantly improved rural infrastructure and traffic movement. – $10.7M.
One of my favorites is a pedestrian and bicycle swing bridge across the Sheboygan River at Sheboygan, WI. The award is $5.3M which seems a bit high.
Another interesting award is to the Sault Ste. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians. This $19.8M will go for road improvements and maintenance, including a major road to their casino.
The DOT report is well done, and each project is clearly summarized, including photographs and/or graphics. It is not clear how most of these grants will help the national infrastructure, but the majority should be beneficial to local areas. A few, of course, seem to be more politically than practically motivated and poor use of government money.
A quick review of the report should be interesting to most of our readers. It can be found at www.transportation.gov/RAISE grants.