U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that the Biden administration will invest nearly $1 billion in American infrastructure through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program. The funding has been awarded to 90 projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.
“We’re proud to support these great projects that will improve infrastructure, strengthen supply chains, make us safer, advance equity, and combat climate change,” said Buttigieg. “As in past years, we received far more applications than we could fund: this cycle saw about a 10-to-1 ratio of requests to available dollars. But going forward, with the passage of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we will be able to support far more infrastructure projects to support jobs and everyday life in communities across the country.”
The program selection criteria encompassed safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation, and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders. Within these criteria, the grants reflect the department’s priorities for creating good-paying jobs, improving safety, applying transformative technology, and explicitly addressing climate change and advancing racial equity.
Listed below are examples of projects that are representative of the overall grants that were awarded:
RAISE Manchester: Connecting Communities
The City of Manchester in New Hampshire will receive $25 million to reconnect the city’s South Millyard district to surrounding neighborhoods and downtown Manchester. The project includes four integrated parts: South Commercial Street Extension, South Willow-Queen City Avenue Intersection Reconfiguration, Gas Street Extension and Active Transportation Corridor, and Pedestrian Connection Improvements.
Reconnecting the South Millyard is part of facilitating new, mixed-use development and adaptive redevelopment of existing buildings. The infrastructure improvements will mitigate existing traffic congestion, increase driver and pedestrian safety, improve a critical rail crossing and freight mobility, and provide improved and accessible transportation options for the community.
US 64 Corridor Improvements: Improving Tribal Highway Mobility and Safety
The New Mexico Department of Transportation will receive $25 million to reconstruct approximately 21 miles of US 64 in Northwestern New Mexico. The project includes the replacement of four bridges with wider, more resilient structures; improvements along 21 miles of roadway including enhanced lighting, widened shoulders, rumble strips, and new pavement. Fiber optic cable will also be installed to connect communications and monitoring equipment, which will improve corridor management practices.
To improve safety, the project widens inadequate shoulder and lane widths and increases sight distances. In addition, new drainage will improve the environment and resilience of the corridor by reducing runoff and damage to the corridor during major weather events.
West Florissant Avenue Great Streets
St. Louis County, Mo., will receive $18.2 million to reconstruct approximately 1.5 miles of West Florissant Avenue, a principal arterial in the Greater St. Louis area, from Stein Road to Ferguson Avenue, through the towns of Dellwood and Ferguson. The project includes a new shared-use path, upgrades to transit stops, new traffic signals, medians, modified property access, new crosswalks, and improved ADA-compliant sidewalks. The project will also relocate and add additional bus stops, pedestrian wayfinding, and create new greenspace and landscaping. Pedestrian-scale lighting will also be included.
The project addresses safety challenges for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders while removing barriers to opportunity for the community. A new multi-use path will improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety. The pathway will be essential for residents who do not have access to cars and will provide viable transportation alternatives, improving quality of life. Improvements that make transit, biking and walking more attractive will help improve environmental sustainability.
Charlotte Multimodal Transit Hub
The City of Charlotte, N.C., will receive $15 million to construct a new multimodal transit center to replace the existing open-air bus terminal in downtown Charlotte. The new transit center will include an underground bus concourse with seamless connections to LYNX Blue Line light rail, the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar, local and regional bus service, and a new bicycle and pedestrian trail. The City of Charlotte intends to develop new retail and office space atop the new facility once completed.
The redesigned terminal will eliminate the need for riders to cross active bus lanes to access various bus stops and will improve street-level access with signalized crosswalks. By enhancing connections to LYNX rail and constructing a new bicycle and pedestrian trail, the project supports quality of life by providing more transportation options. By constructing the new transit hub underground, the project supports additional development in a dense and transit-rich area of Charlotte, increasing environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness.
The Stitch – Capping I-75/85 in Downtown Atlanta
The City of Atlanta will receive a $900,000 planning grant to advance a project to “cap” Interstates 75/85 in downtown Atlanta. The cap will reconnect the divided Midtown and the Old Fourth Ward communities that were separated from downtown Atlanta by construction of the Downtown I-75/85 Connector. Once completed, the project, known as the “Stitch,” will reconnect the local community with pedestrian-oriented, multimodal streets. The planning phase of this project includes community engagement; multimodal transportation analysis; zoning, land use, and affordable housing policy recommendations; a sustainability strategy; and park design.
The proposed construction phase of this project will also enhance pedestrian infrastructure with approximately 14 acres of green space and accelerate the building of affordable housing, improving living environments for its residents.
East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project
The City of Seattle will receive $20 million to reconstruct a 1.1-mile segment of the East Marginal Way roadway and upgrade the route to Heavy Haul Network standards to help reduce supply chain bottlenecks and improve operations along this important freight route. The project also will add adaptive traffic signals using Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique technology to enhance safety and improve traffic flow at several of the city’s busiest freight intersections.
This project will improve safety for cyclists by creating an improved, fully protected, separated bike lane, and protected intersection crossings along the corridor. Adaptive signals will be installed to help reduce traffic crashes.
The project will reduce travel time for drivers and freight during peak periods. Improving freight travel time reliability will reduce costs for shippers, and encourage growth in local exports, creating economic competitiveness benefits. Reduced idling and the diversion of a portion of the trips along the corridor to non-motorized modes will reduce air pollution and improve environmental sustainability. The new pavement will be constructed to higher standards to ensure the road can support the heavy freight traffic and the pavement will extend the project’s useful life to 50 years.
FY 2021 RAISE Transportation discretionary grants are for planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and were awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. RAISE funding supports roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.
Per statute, the department is awarding 50% of RAISE Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas and 50% to urban areas that deliver positive benefits for these communities. For this round of RAISE Transportation discretionary grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $100 million can be awarded to a single State, as specified in the appropriations act.