USDOT Awards $1B in Grants for Infrastructure Projects

West Seattle Bridge
The West Seattle Bridge is closed because of cracks in the main span. Seattle got $20 million for East Marginal Way, which has added congestion related to the closure. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

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Infrastructure projects around the country linked to freight and passenger networks were awarded nearly $1 billion in federal grants, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg indicated the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants would be tools to target nearly 90 projects in 47 states as well as Washington, D.C., and Guam.

Since the Obama administration, these federal infrastructure grants have been sought by state and municipal agencies to support big-ticket connectivity programs.

“We’re proud to support these great projects that will improve infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, make us safer, advance equity and combat climate change,” Buttigieg said Nov. 19.

“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. But going forward, with the passage of President [Joe] 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.”

Among the grant recipients was the city of Seattle. DOT provided it with $20 million to assist with the reconstruction of a 1.1-mile stretch of the East Marginal Way roadway to reduce travel time for motorists. The grant also would serve to upgrade the corridor to meet heavy-haul standards.

According to DOT, upgrades to the roadway’s freight system are meant to ameliorate supply chain bottlenecks.

Additionally, the grant will be used to add adaptive traffic signals with advanced technology for safety purposes. Ideally, the adoption of a complete-streets concept would improve accommodations for cyclists and other users.

“With East Marginal Way greatly deteriorated and congested both by freight traffic and residents impacted by the closure of the West Seattle Bridge, this project will give this critical freight corridor a much-needed face lift. It will allow East Marginal Way to handle heavy truck traffic between port terminals, SoDo [neighborhood] railyards and businesses, and [Interstate] 5, reducing congestion in SoDo while providing a direct connection to the newly renovated Terminal 5 via the lower West Seattle Bridge,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Commerce Committee chairwoman. The panel oversees federal freight policy.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) emphasized the recent enactment of comprehensive infrastructure legislation. “I’m proud that the [$1 trillion] bipartisan infrastructure [law] continues on this work by further investing in the RAISE program, and in the workers, businesses and communities it supports, and I’m going to keep pushing to get Washington state the federal dollars we need.”

Also receiving a RAISE grant was St. Louis County in Missouri. DOT awarded it $18.2 million for the reconstruction of approximately 1.5 miles of West Florissant Avenue, an arterial in the Greater St. Louis area, from Stein Road to Ferguson Avenue, through Dellwood and Ferguson. Per DOT, the project features a shared-use path, upgrades to transit, traffic signals, medians, modified property access, crosswalks and improvements to sidewalks. The project also will add bus stops and pedestrian wayfinding, and include greenspace and landscaping.

The fiscal 2021 RAISE grants were awarded competitively to enhance local and regional mobility options, DOT explained. The grants specifically target surface transportation projects for planning and capital investments. Qualifying criteria included safety features, environmental sustainability, quality-of-life benefits, economic competitiveness, technological innovations and partnerships with stakeholders.

RAISE grants were formerly known as BUILD (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development) and TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery). On Capitol Hill, a U.S. Senate panel proposed dedicating the RAISE grants program $1.09 billion in fiscal 2022.

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