U.S. DOT announces major infrastructure investments nationwide

Aug. 2, 2019

The department is proposing $856 million in INFRA grants

The U.S. DOT recently announced nearly $856 million in proposed grants through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

“This significant federal investment will improve major highways, bridges, ports, and railroads around the country to better connect our communities, and to enhance safety and economic growth,” Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a news release.

The purpose of the INFRA discretionary grants is to create opportunities for all levels of government and the private sector to fund infrastructure, using innovative approaches to improve the processes for building significant projects, and increasing accountability for the projects that are built. In addition to providing direct federal funding, the INFRA discretionary grant program aims to increase the total investment by state, local, and private partners.

Recently, the INFRA program came under scrutiny when a GAO report determined it lacked transparency and consistency, citing the department's lack of applicant follow-up and history of awarding projects that did not meet all required criteria to receive funding.

The U.S. DOT is proposing awards under INFRA to both large and small projects. For a large project, the INFRA grant must be at least $25 million, while the grant must be at least $5 million for a small project. For each fiscal year of INFRA funds, 10% of available funds are reserved for small projects. The INFRA program also preserves the statutory requirement in the FAST Act to award at least 25% of funding for rural projects.

A few of the large projects that would receive awards under the proposed grants would include $125 million to the Alabama DOT to construct a new six-lane cable-stayed bridge with more than 215 ft of vertical clearance to carry I-10 across the Mobile River channel; $90 million to the Arizona DOT to add capacity on a rural, mountainous stretch of I-17 north of Phoenix; and $50 million to the city of Temulca, California, to construct a two-lane northbound collector/distributor system along I-15.

Some of the small projects to receive grants in the proposal would include $8.297 million to the Colorado DOT to add approximately 12 miles of passing lanes along U.S. 287 in the rural southeastern part of the state; $5 million to Cobb County, Georgia, for the construction of a 24-ft-wide reversible ramp providing direct access to the I-75 Managed Lanes system; and $13.01 million to the South Dakota DOT to support a bridge replacement project over the Missouri River in Pierre.