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June 18, 2020 3:45 PM, EDT

DOT Unveils Newest INFRA Grant Recipients

Secretary of Transportation Elaine ChaoU.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the recipients of $906 million in Infrastructure For Rebuilding America grants.

The DOT funding, which will support 20 infrastructure projects in 20 states, was announced June 18.

“This administration is focused on infrastructure improvements, and this $906 million in federal funding will improve major highways, bridges, ports and railroads across the country to better connect our communities, enhance safety and support economic growth,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said.

In keeping with the Trump administration’s emphasis on boosting rural infrastructure, some 53% of the funding will be devoted to projects in rural areas.

In Louisiana, a $135 million grant will help improve a stretch of state Route 1 that runs along Bayou Lafourche and is prone to flooding. The project will involve building a stretch of road that is elevated 22 feet above sea level.

Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

Wilson

“This is a major grant,” said Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Shawn Wilson, who made a special video announcement. “We know that this will affect the nation’s economy, Louisiana’s economy and, in light of the COVID pandemic, eventually put thousands of people to work.”

The Tennessee Department of Transportation was awarded a grant for $11.2 million to support the Interstate 40 Smart Fiber Project, which will involve the installation of fiber optic communications and intelligent transportation system devices along the corridor between Memphis and Nashville. The devices include cameras, dynamic message signs and road weather sensors.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation received a $71.4 million grant to construct the Greenville Bypass Freight Corridor, which will carry U.S. Route 82 from the Greenville Bridge to Leland. The Greenville Bridge crosses the Mississippi River and forms a link to Arkansas. The project is intended to reduce travel times for freight haulers and bring more commerce to the Mississippi Delta region.

Willie Simmons, commissioner for the Mississippi Transportation Commission’s central district

Simmons

“The Greenville Bypass will improve safety throughout the Mississippi Delta by providing a route for freight traffic to efficiently move goods around the Greenville area without traveling through the city,” said Willie Simmons, commissioner for the Mississippi Transportation Commission’s central district. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to fund infrastructure improvement projects that make our roads safer while growing the state’s economy.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that his administration secured a $55.1 million grant to widen a portion of the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway. The Mountain Parkway, named for a former Kentucky governor, runs for about 80 miles between Winchester and Salyersville. Specifically, the INFRA grant will support work in Wolfe County, which is 30 miles west of Salyersville.

“This is a great step forward for the people of eastern Kentucky and will open up the region for so many opportunities,” Beshear said.

SEE THE RECIPIENTS: Full list

INFRA grants were created in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act of 2015. Under this act, DOT must notify congressional authorizing committees of the proposed projects selected under the grant program. The list of selected projects will remain with these committees for a 60-day review before the awards are finalized.

According to DOT, demand for the grants during this round of funding was high. The agency assessed 173 eligible applications from 47 states, territories and the District of Columbia, which collectively asked for $7.4 billion in grants.

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