Highway expansion projects aimed at improving the flow of truck freight in seven parts of the country will collect roughly $275 million from federal coffers in the latest round of discretionary grants awards.
The projects account for approximately 30% of the $905 million awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants, which were also awarded to port and rail projects.
“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 U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in announcing the grants on Wednesday. The 24 awards are subject to a 60-day review period before the money can be distributed.
The largest of the seven grants aimed at easing truck congestion was $70 million to the Clear Path 465 Project in Indiana, which involves reconstructing and expanding the Interstate 465/Interstate 69 interchange northeast of Indianapolis. “The project supports economic vitality by reducing travel times and improving safety,” according to a summary, and will “ease freight congestion along the National Highway Freight Network.”
The South Dakota Department of Transportation was awarded $61.6 million to reconstruct approximately 28 miles of Interstate 90 in McCook and Minnehaha counties, which includes removing and replacing the existing surface and adding truck parking.
“The project supports economic vitality by rebuilding and improving a significant freight route that is nearing the end of useful life and will soon have inadequate safety facilities for truck movement,” a summary noted. “Reconstructing this segment to avoid expected detours and adding truck parking results in benefits for freight movement and enhances the state of good repair of the corridor.”
Other grants awarded to highway projects where truck freight is expected to benefit include:
$50 million to the Texas Department of Transportation to improve approximately 7.4 miles of Interstate 35 across Texas, Oklahoma and Chickasaw Nation.
$45.2 million to the Maine Department of Transportation to replace 14 aging bridge decks, all of which are on the National Highway System and many of which are on the National Highway Freight Network.
$21 million to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for a series of improvements on a segment of PA-61 that is in poor condition and at risk of closure from slope deterioration and flooding.
$16.8 million to the North Dakota Department of Transportation to construct passing lanes along approximately 165 miles of two-lane U.S. 52 between Carrington and six miles north of Kenmare, North Dakota.
$11.3 million to the Seattle Department of Transportation to make significant bridge repairs on the West Seattle High-Rise bridge that is currently closed due to structural deficiencies, as well as the Spokane Street Swing Bridge running adjacent to the High-Rise bridge.
Demand for INFRA grants in 2021 “far exceeded” available funds, according to DOT, which evaluated 157 eligible applications from 42 states and Guam. “Applicants collectively requested approximately $6.8 billion in grant funds — more than seven times the funding available,” DOT stated.