By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Transportation Department on Friday said it was opening a $1.5 billion grant program for a wide range of infrastructure projects.
In November, the department awarded 90 projects in 47 states a total of $1 billion.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the funds will “support more projects than ever, and help make our transportation system safer, more accessible, and more sustainable for people across the country.”
Under the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden, the Transportation Department will receive $660 billion over five years, including $210.5 billion to be awarded in competitive grants. Of that $71 billion is for new grant programs.
Biden has made rebuilding U.S. infrastructure a key part of his domestic agenda.
The department will evaluate proposals on safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, partnership and innovation, mobility and community connectivity.
Buttigieg will be in Kansas Friday to discuss the new grant program.
Environmental groups like the Sierra Club say the U.S. must do more than just rebuild existing roads and bridges but must also reduce the number of single-passenger vehicles and dramatically improve public transit.
The grants awarded under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) last year went to rebuild roads and add rail lines — and to create new green space, trails, bike lanes and safer streets for pedestrians as well as dedicated bus lanes and dock replacements.
Seattle received $20 million to reconstruct a 1.1-mile road segment and add a bike lane. Washington County, Oregon received $12.2 million for a 15-mile trail.
Charlotte, North Carolina received $15 million to construct a new multimodal transit center and New Orleans won $18.5 million to improve transit fare collection.
Applications for the new grants are due by April, with awards to be announced by August.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kim Coghill)