U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced on September 15 that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded $1.5 billion from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant program for highway, multimodal freight and rail projects that will make the nation’s transportation systems safer and more resilient, eliminate supply chain bottlenecks, and improve critical freight movements.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law increased funding for the INFRA program by more than 50 percent to help meet high demand for federal funding to support projects across the country. Over the next five years, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide approximately $8 billion for the INFRA program, including the $1.5 billion made available in this round of funding.
“Today we are announcing transformative investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and rail to improve the way Americans get around and help lower the costs of shipping goods,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Using funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are able to support more excellent community-led projects this year than ever before.”
Thanks to a new, streamlined process created by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reduce the burden on state and local entities, applicants were able to submit one application for three different grant programs, including INFRA and two new programs, the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (RURAL), and the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program (Mega). The recipients of RURAL and Mega grants will be announced in the coming months.
In addition to prioritizing projects that will deliver national or regional economic benefits, INFRA projects were also evaluated based on safety, how they supported freight movement and job creation, their efforts to address climate change and resiliency, impacts on equity and quality of life, how they applied innovative technology, their cost effectiveness, and demonstrated project readiness. Further, USDOT awarded a significant amount of funding to rural areas, historically disadvantaged communities, and areas of persistent poverty to address historic underinvestment in these communities. Approximately 43% percent of awards will go to rural projects, exceeding the statutory requirement to award rural projects 25% of INFRA funding.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also expanded INFRA eligibility to include, for example, wildlife crossing projects, marine highway corridor projects, and surface transportation projects located within or functionally connected to an international border crossing.
Examples of project recipients include the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Project, which includes a new road (State Route 11) and Port of Entry facility at Otay Mesa. The new Port of Entry will provide an alternative for nearly 3,600 trucks that cross the existing Otay Mesa and Tecate Ports of Entries daily, which are operating at capacity. The project facilitates freight movement across borders with destinations at nearby distribution centers and warehouses, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Inland Empire’s mega-distribution centers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The project sponsor will establish a local hire agreement targeting disadvantaged groups, as well as a pre- apprenticeship program.
See the full list of proposed awards at the Department of Transportation