US transportation officials on Thursday announced $2.2 billion for local infrastructure projects, paving the way for new bridges, roads, bike lanes, railways and ports in many communities across the country.
Competitive grants are more than double the amount provided last year under the same program. The influx comes from a $1 trillion infrastructure legislation backed by President Joe Biden, which provided an additional $7.5 billion over five years for grants.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the projects would help modernize America’s transportation systems.
“It’s a program that recognizes many of the most interesting and compelling ideas and designs and the plans are not going to come from Washington, but there should be more funding,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what we’re getting here.”
Buttigieg traveled to Arizona to highlight projects in Phoenix and Tucson, each receiving a maximum of $25 million. In Phoenix, the money will help build a new bike and pedestrian bridge over the Rio Salado, which connects the city’s southern region to downtown.
In Tucson, the money will redesign a major road and replace a 1960s vehicular bridge that is in poor condition. It will also add a separate bicycle and pedestrian bridge to Mayor Regina Romero as part of “a transformational investment in Tucson’s infrastructure.”
While the Tucson project will expand the number of lanes for motorists, some other projects will reduce them. For example, a $17 million grant will help limit a five-lane road to three lanes in the Chicago suburb of Munster, Indiana, in an effort to reduce traffic accidents. The money will also fund a 10-foot-wide multi-purpose path along the road and plant more than 250 trees.
Pay attention to cyclists and pedestrians
For many road improvement grants, “we’re also doing it to benefit the bike and pedestrian side,” Buttigieg said.
Other newly announced projects in the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program also provide funding for bicycles and walkways.
Texas and Kansas are each receiving about $25 million for hiking and biking trails. Huntsville, Alabama, is receiving $20 million to improve a pedestrian corridor connecting the city to different neighborhoods. Another $20 million will go to Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Between is helping to finance a new bike and pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River.
Buttigieg said the US Department of Transportation received about $13 billion in grant applications.
A total of 166 projects across the country are receiving $2.2 billion a piece. The funding marks a significant increase from $983 million distributed among 90 projects in 2021. The allocation is the largest for a program dating to 2009, which has undergone several name and emphasis changes during the presidential administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
Although still substantial, the funding doesn’t have much purchasing power when the infrastructure law was passed by Congress last year. This is because inflation has raised the cost of key transport construction materials, such as steel plates for bridges and asphalt to pave roads.
This year’s projects range from a new sea wall and port improvements in Sitka, Alaska, to the construction of a four-lane parkway in the Virgin Islands.
Among other projects, New Jersey is receiving $20 million to elevate a roadway that serves as a main evacuation route for Atlantic City and its casino industry. In Louisiana, $20 million will go toward the design and construction of two train stations along a planned route between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Whatcom County, Washington, will receive $25 million to replace a 60-year-old ferry serving rural Lumi Island with an electric hybrid model.