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USDOT Awards $1 Billion for 70 Infrastructure Projects

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will distribute $1 billion among 70 surface transportation infrastructure projects in 44 states through its Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program. The Fiscal Year 2020 program is for planning and capital investments.

Program selection criteria included safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, state of good repair, environmental sustainability, innovation, and partnerships with a range of stakeholders. And 50% of BUILD grant funding was awarded to rural-area projects, consistent with the USDOT’s R.O.U.T.E.S. initiative.

For this round of BUILD Transportation grants, the maximum grant award was $25 million, and no more than $100 million could be awarded to a single state, as specified in the appropriations act.

Here are 12 capital-award recipients, whose projects include a passenger or freight rail component:

Arkansas Department of Transportation: $4 million will go toward construction of a new two-lane rural highway in Monticello (from State Highway 83 Spur/Scogin Drive approximately 1.25 miles north to U.S. Highway 278). The $16.7 million project also includes a grade-separated overpass of the Arkansas Midland Railroad and the addition of turn lanes at Jordan Drive and Scogin Drive.

California Department of Transportation: $20 million for the Stockton Diamond Grade Separation project. The project, which will cost a total of $237.12 million, includes grade separation of Union Pacific and BNSF Railway mainlines and local roadway improvements along the lines. (For more details, click here.)

Town of Castle Rock, Colorado: $5.4 million will go toward pre-construction work and right-of-way acquisition for building the Crystal Valley Parkway Interchange and associated roadway improvements. Plans for the project to be eventually completed include a new interchange on I-25 at Douglas Lane, five new miles of roadway, and relocation of the existing frontage road to eliminate four at-grade unprotected railroad crossings.

Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA): $15 million to help replace RTA’s aging railcar fleet. RTA will purchase 34 heavy rail vehicles for operation along the Red Line. The GCRTA Rail Car Replacement Program-Phase 1 is expected to cost $125 million, and will also include associated infrastructure upgrades to the rail maintenance facility, equipment and stations to accommodate the new cars.

America’s Central Port District: $20.8 million to be used for the St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project, which is expected to cost about $26.1 million. At America’s Central Port in Granite City, Ill., the project includes about 2,050 linear feet of new railroad track, a new terminal access roadway, a new belt system, and a barge loading system replacement. At St. Louis Port Authority, Mo., the project includes approximately 7,300 linear feet of new railroad track, barge loading equipment modernization work, conveyor replacement, loading shed updates, and flood mitigation work. At Southwest Regional Port District, Ill., the project includes loading shed and electrical system updates, hoist system and barge loading upgrades, and flood mitigation work.

Polk County, Iowa: $25 million for the Broadway Avenue Multimodal Improvements project. The project will reconstruct approximately five miles of a two-lane rural arterial into a three-lane urban road at a total cost of $39.9 million. Work will include a new underpass for grade separation at a dual railroad crossing, increased vertical clearance of Broadway Avenue under the I-235 overpass, addition of a paved multiuse trail, and installation of a fiber-optic traffic signal interconnect network to enable adaptive signal control.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet: $13.5 million will be used for the US 79 Bridge Replacement project. Of the four bridges to be replaced and widened at a total cost of $16.9 million, one is over CSX tracks in Todd County. It will have a higher clearance to meet Class I’s current railroad design policies.

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (Mo.): $14.2 million will go toward a 0.55-mile extension of the Kansas City Streetcar line from its current terminus near 3rd Street and Grand Boulevard, across the existing Grand Avenue Bridge, to the Berkley Riverfront. Once complete, the project is slated to cost $20.2 million.

City of Lexington, N.C.: $24.96 million will go toward construction of a multimodal passenger rail and bus station in the Depot District, replace the 7th Avenue at-grade rail crossing with a grade-separated rail crossing at 5th Avenue, and make track improvements between the two components. “Despite passenger stops at regular intervals along the Raleigh-to-Charlotte corridor, Davidson County is disconnected from the region’s passenger rail corridor,” according to USDOT’s BUILD grants notice. “The project introduces rail service and increases passenger rail connectivity, as well as facilitates redevelopment in the Depot District.”

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: $21 million will go toward the Erie Bayfront Parkway Mobility and Freight Improvement Program, which includes reconstructing three major intersections, removing existing railroad tracks (including two at-grade crossings), closing gaps in a multiuse trail network, and constructing a multimodal bridge. The total cost of the project is estimated at $63.9 million.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development: $7 million will go toward construction of approximately 5.5 miles of track to connect the Port of Cates Landing and the adjoining Select Tennessee certified industrial site to the TennKen Railroad in Lake County. The
Northwest Tennessee Regional Port Authority has partnered with the short line and the Lake County Industrial Park to develop, implement and maintain the project, which is expected to cost $12 million.

North Central Texas Council of Governments: $25 million for the North Texas Multimodal Operations, Velocity, Efficiency, and Safety (NT MOVES) Program—the total cost of which is expected to reach $55 million. By replacing or upgrading bridges and double-tracking portions of Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s Trinity Railway Express corridor that also accommodates Amtrak and freight rail traffic, the project will increase reliability and decrease commuter and freight travel times. The project also includes the installation of Clear Path technology for the exchange of timely and accurate train movement information.

Here are two of the planning-award recipients, whose projects include a passenger or freight rail component:

Western Connecticut Council of Governments: $400,000 will go toward a Regional Value Capture Mechanism Study along MTA Metro-North Railroad’s Danbury and New Canaan branch lines in Connecticut. The goal is to determine whether a regional value capture mechanism, such as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district or comparable mechanism, can be used on a regional, multijurisdictional level to generate the funds required to support improvements along the two branch lines. Total study cost: $500,000.

San Juan County, New Mexico: $2 million will be used to complete the planning phase for the realignment of NM 371 corridor rail. The proposed rail line will connect the Farmington area to the BNSF corridor, Interstate 40 and Thoreau.

For the complete list of BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grants projects, click here.

Nearly $4 billion in BUILD grants have been awarded since 2017.

In other developments, the USDOT recently published a Notice of Funding Opportunity that provides up to $50 million in grants for commuter rail agencies working to improve safety at highway-rail crossings.

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