USDOT Awards $1B in RAISE Grants

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
“We’re proud to support these [90] great projects that will improve infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, make us safer, advance equity, and combat climate change,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who announced the RAISE discretionary grants program recipients on Nov. 19.

“We’re proud to support these [90] great projects that will improve infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, make us safer, advance equity, and combat climate change,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who announced the RAISE discretionary grants program recipients on Nov. 19.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will distribute nearly $1 billion to 90 rail, transit, road and port projects through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program; California High-Speed Rail Authority and Genesee & Wyoming are among the grantees.

The move follows USDOT’s April 16 issuance of a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the FY 2021 RAISE program (formerly known as TIGER or BUILD); the application deadline was July 12. RAISE is one of the few USDOT discretionary programs for which regional and local governments can directly compete for multimodal transportation funding.

RAISE grants are for “planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and were awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact,” USDOT reported during the Nov. 19 award announcement. The program selection criteria encompassed safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation, and stakeholder partnerships.

Per statute, USDOT is providing 50% of RAISE grant funding to projects located in rural areas and 50% to urban areas, USDOT said. The maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $100 million has been awarded to a single state.

“As in past years, we received far more applications than we could fund: this cycle saw about a 10-to-1 ratio of requests to available dollars,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said. “But going forward, with the passage of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will be able to support far more infrastructure projects to support jobs and everyday life in communities across the country.” (RAISE is slated to receive $1.5 billion annually from the recently signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.)

RAISE funding has been awarded to 90 projects in 47 states and the District of Columbia and Guam.

Among the rail-related projects receiving grants are:

• Wasco (Calif.) SR 46 Improvement Project (California High-Speed Rail Authority, Wasco, Calif.), $24 million: This project will expand approximately 0.4 miles of SR 46 to a four-lane cross section with an approximately 16’-6” clearance under the BNSF and CHSRA tracks to accommodate trucks; and reconstruct the SR 46-SR43/J Street intersection to a single lane roundabout. The project also includes ADA accessibility improvements, such as curb ramps; storm water improvements; and the construction of a utility corridor south of SR 46. “This project will eliminate an existing bottleneck crossing under the BNSF rail creating more efficient freight movement,” USDOT reported. It also “promotes pedestrian and bicycle safety by providing dedicated sidewalks and bike lanes.” Estimated total project cost: $75.6 million.

• South Dakota Freight Capacity Expansion Project (South Dakota Department of Transportation; Pennington, Haakon, and Stanley counties, S.D.), $22 million: This project will complete the track upgrades needed for 286K GRL capacity across 160 miles of Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern’s (RCP&E) subdivision between Pierre and Rapid City, S.D. It will replace approximately 87.7 miles of aging rail; upgrade 121 bridge structures; install about 80,000 main line crossties; replace 11 main line turnouts; upgrade 122 grade crossings; and include safety improvements on the line. Estimated total project cost: $84 million. The project is also supported by $20 million from the state of South Dakota as well as $42 million from RCP&E, a Genesee & Wyoming subsidiary. “These major track upgrades will support the West River economy, improve the productivity of current customer supply chains, and further enhance the attractiveness of western South Dakota for new business investments,” RCP&E General Manager Rod Wiseman said.

• Port of Longview Industrial Rail Corridor Expansion (IRCE) Project (Port of Longview, Longview, Wash.), $16 million: This project will expand capacity of the port’s existing industrial railroad corridor. Improvements include two new approximately 8,500-foot sidings, and the extension of the current tracks by about 1,000 feet to accommodate full-length unit trains. According to USDOT, “[p]artnership benefits would be generated through collaboration with Washington State Department of Transportation, BNSF and UPRR railroads, Cowlitz County, Cowlitz Wahkiakum Council of Government, the Regional Transportation Planning Organization, and the city of Longview.” Estimated total project cost: $53.5 million.

• New Links Implementation: Fare Modernization, Neighborhood Transfer Points, Regional Transfer Hubs and Operator Comfort Stations (New Orleans Regional Transit Authority, New Orleans, La.), $18.5 million: This project will deliver a new fare collection system, including the installation of collection boxes on streetcars, buses and ferries, as well as ticket vending machines and related software to allow for cashless sales. It also includes a new neighborhood transfer hub as well as driver comfort stations. Estimated total project cost: $23.1 million.

• Southwest Chief La Junta Route Restoration Program (Trinidad, Prowers County, Colo.), $2.8 million: This project will replace the last 34 miles of unrehabilitated track on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route, including 29 miles of bolted rail with new Continuous Welded Rail (CWR) and approximately 4.8 miles of embedded CWR; roughly 15 panel turnouts; and about 20 panelized grade crossings. The work will take place in Kansas between MP 364 and MP 391 and in Colorado between MP 471 and MP 492. Estimated total project cost: $23.4 million.

Download the full list of awards below.

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