Posts Tagged ‘federal transportation grants’

House Budget Bill Boosts Transportation Spending

July 19, 2021

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved a spending bill for fiscal year 2022 that would boost spending on transportation programs over FY2021 levels.

The bill, known as the Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies legislation provides an increase of $1.9 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

USDOT is allocated $105.7 billion in budgetary resources, a 22 percent increase above the FY2021 enacted level ($86.7 billion) and President Joseph Biden’s FY2022 budget request of $87 billion.

Among the spending levels authorized for transportation programs are:

• $1.2 billion for National Infrastructure Investments, a 20 percent increase from FY 2021. It includes $20 million for Transportation Planning Grants to assist areas of persistent poverty, a 100 percent increase over FY 2021. An additional $100 million is included for a new grant program to “spur thriving communities nationwide.”

•$4.1 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, up 46 percent from FY 2021. This includes $625 million for the new Passenger Rail Improvement, Modernization, and Expansion (PRIME) grant program “to support projects that improve, expand or establish passenger rail service”; $500 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, a 33 percent increase from FY 2021; $2.7 billion for Amtrak, a 35 percent boost over FY 2021, which includes $1.2 billion for Northeast Corridor Grants and $1.5 billion for National Network Grants.

• $15.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, including $12.2 billion for Transit Formula Grants to expand bus fleets and increase the transit state of good repair; $2.5 billion for Capital Investment Grants to construct more than 23 new transit routes nationwide, a 22 percent increase above the FY 2021 enacted level and equal to the president’s budget request; and $580 million for Transit Infrastructure Grants to purchase more than 300 zero-emission buses and 400 diesel buses, and to support “transformative research for transit systems,” which is a 12 percent increase above FY 2021.

FTA Changes Matching Fund Rule

February 19, 2021

The Federal Transit Administration has made a significant rule change for projects seeking to receive Capital Investment Grant funding.

The agency no longer will prohibit grant recipients from using CIG grants as part of their local funding match when applying for grants.

That prohibition, which had been imposed during the Trump administration, has been criticized for establishing barriers to certain public transit projects.

In a letter sent this past week the FTA said it will now “rely on the CIG statutory framework”to ensure that projects have met federal transportation law, the Major Capital Investment Projects Final rule, and the CIG Final Interim Policy Guidance published in June 2016.

Some congressional Democrats had accused the Trump administration of using funding policies to delay or thwart such Northeast Corridor rail infrastructure projects as replacing the century old Portal Bridge and constructing a new tunnel linking New York City and New Jersey under the Hudson River, also known as the Gateway project.

Under the new FTA policy, states will be allowed to use federal loans to cover their share of a project’s costs, something New York and New Jersey had planned to do with their federal loans in order to meet their 50 percent match of funding for the Gateway project.

Former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao had in May 2018 prohibited states from using federal loans as part of their project match funding.

Although Congress a year later prohibited USDOT from doing that, the agency continued to maintain its policy of banning use of loans for state matching funds.

Amtrak Routes to Benefit from CRISI Grants

September 24, 2020

Several federal CRISI grants were awarded this week that will improve routes used by several Amtrak trains.

A Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant of $31.8 million grant was awarded to Ramsey County, Minnesota, to be used toward launching a second train between Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago,

The funding will be used to complete final design work for infrastructure needed to accommodate the train, as well as construction of track, signal, and bridge improvements.

Matching funds will be provided from Minnesota ($10 million), Wisconsin ($6.2 million) and Amtrak ($5 million.

One existing Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee is expected to be extended to the Twin Cities.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $15.6 million to improve pedestrian safety between Dearborn and Kalamazoo on Amtrak’s Michigan Line.

The funding will be used for fencing and other safety enhancements at grade crossings that have a high rate of foot traffic.

Officials said 12 pedestrians have been struck by trains in the past four years and there have been numerous near-misses.

The Washington State Department of Transportation received a $3.7 million for landslide mitigation north of Seattle in a mud slide-prone area near Mukilteo, Washington.

The area hosts 14 passengers and an average of 21 freight trains a day and has seen numerous service interruptions.

The funding will be used in the third phase of a program that began in 2016.

New Mexico Department of Transportation received $5.6 million to rebuild the route over Raton Pass used by Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

The work will include 12.4 miles of welded rail, 14,750 new ties, repairs to two bridges, rock scaling in three locations, and rebuilding of three grade crossings.

Total project cost is $11.5 million and includes $1 million in funding from New Mexico and $4.9 million from Amtrak.

In a news release, Amtrak said the latest CRISI grant is the fifth federal grant that has been awarded for rebuilding the route of the Chief in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

In the pending project, work will begin next year to install new ties on a 31-mile section south of Raton Pass and another six-mile segment in New Mexico.

More than 12 miles of bolted rail will be converted to welded rail between Lamy and where Rio Metro’s Rail Runner commuter traffic diverges to Santa Fe.

Although being rebuilt are the decks of two bridges and three grade crossings.

Although it won’t immediately affect any current Amtrak routes, an award of $47.55 million was given to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for the purchase of CSX’s S-Line rail corridor from Raleigh to Ridgeway, North Carolina.

The Buckingham Branch Railroad received $13.67 million to rebuild 70 miles of track, 14 grade crossings and five bridges in Virginia.

The work will also include construction of new drain systems in the Afton tunnel liner to reduce ice buildup; and improvement of clearances in two additional tunnels along the North Mountain Subdivision line between Charlottesville and Clifton Forge, Virginia.

The route is used by Amtrak’s Cardinal.

Just 2 BUILD Grants Will Benefit Amtrak

November 17, 2019

Only two of the rail projects that recently received federal BUILD grants that were awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation will directly benefit Amtrak service.

Both involve Amtrak stations in Illinois.

A $14 million grant was awarded for building an underpass at the station in Normal, Illinois, that also serves nearby Bloomington.

The federal funds will pay for design and construction of a pedestrian, bicyclist, and passenger underpass and a second boarding platform at the station.

Normal is served by Chicago-St. Louis Lincoln Service trains as well as the Chicago-San Antonio Texas Eagle.

The other grant was $14 million for design and construction of a new multi-modal transportation center in downtown Carbondale.

That station will replace a modular facility Amtrak opened in the 1980s.

Carbondale is the southern terminus of Amtrak’s Illini and Saluki as well as an intermediate stop for the City of New Orleans, which operates between Chicago and New Orleans.

USDOT handed out $900 million in BUILD grants for 55 transportation-related infrastructure projects in 35 states,

Half of the funding went to projects in rural areas of the country and the lion’s share ($603 million) went to highway projects.

Rail projects received $48.3 million or 5 percent of the total. Transit projects received $84.6 million or 10 percent of the total.

Florida received the largest amount of grant funding followed by North Carolina, Maine, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi and Louisiana.

California received two grants while Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut received no grant funding.