The latest round of federal infrastructure funding includes the largest contribution to emerge, so far, from the 2021 infrastructure bill for the removal of an urban freeway.
The Biden administration on September 15 announced $1.5 billion in competitive grant funding for $1.5 billion for 26 highway, multimodal freight, and rail projects. Several big ticket items headlining the list, including more than $127 million for the Western Hills Viaduct replacement in Cincinnati and $105 million for the state of Michigan to convert Interstate 375 to a boulevard.
The $1.5 billion is just one funding round of a planned $7.25 billion in spending for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant program over the next four years—a total increased by 50 percent increase by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, approved at the end of 2021.
“The award is the biggest step the administration has taken toward helping to remove an aging highway, fulfilling — in one community, at least — a goal the White House set when it announced infrastructure plans early last year,” according to the article by Ian Duncan for the Washington Post.
A U.S. Department of Transportation press release notes that the INFRA funding announcement will be closely followed by announcements of funding announcements for two new grant programs: the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (RURAL). and the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program (Mega). A new, streamlined process created by the U.S. DOT allowed applicants to submit one application for all three grant programs.
The INFRA grant awards follow on the heels of several other IIJA-fueled funding announcements, including $2.2 billion for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) competitive grant funding program, $1.66 billion for the Bus and Bus Facilities and Low or No Emission Vehicle programs, and $1 billion for the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge.”
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