U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced plans to invest $906 million in America’s infrastructure through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program. The proposed funding will be awarded to 20 projects in 20 states, and of those 20 projects, four are direct rail or rail-served projects totaling $112.05 million, or 12.3% of total funds. The remaining 16 projects are all highway-related.
The two rail-specific projects are:
- The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will be awarded $6.75 million to complete the last phase of the Merrimac Bridge rehabilitation to accommodate 286,000 lbs. railcars at 25 miles per hour on the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad’s freight rail bridge over Lake Wisconsin.
- The City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority will be awarded more than $6.1 million to upgrade an industrial park in Inola, Okla., with new structures and rail, and construct a three-mile rail spur connecting the park to the freight mainline.
The two port facilities with rail connections are:
- Port Tampa Bay in Florida will be awarded more than $19.8 million to improve capacity at Port Tampa Bay’s Hooker’s Point container facility to accommodate an additional 150,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually.
- The Port of Houston Authority in Texas will be awarded more than $79.4 million to restore and strengthen approximately 2,700 linear feet of wharf and upgrade approximately 84 acres of yard space at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal.
Fifty-three percent of the proposed $906 million will be awarded to rural projects. Six awards totaling $293 million are being made to projects that are at least partially located in an Opportunity Zone, while several other projects are located in areas near Opportunity Zones.
“Demand for INFRA grants far exceeded available funds,” DOT said. “DOT evaluated 173 eligible applications from 47 states, as well as U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, that collectively requested approximately $7.4 billion in grant funds—more than eight times the funding available.”
As required under the FAST Act, Congress will have 60 days to review the Department’s proposed project awards. After the 60-day review period, the Department is free to begin obligating funding.