Narrow bridges

More than $2 billion announced for roads, bridges and bike paths across the United States

By TERRY TANG and DAVID A. LIEB
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — U.S. transportation officials on Thursday announced $2.2 billion for local infrastructure projects, paving the way for new bridges, roads, bike lanes, railroads and harbors in many communities across the country.

Competitive grants are more than double the amount awarded the previous year under the same program. The influx comes from a $1 trillion infrastructure bill backed by President Joe Biden, which provided an additional $7.5 billion over five years for grants.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the projects would help modernize America’s transportation systems.

“This is a program that recognizes that many of the most interesting and compelling ideas, designs and plans won’t come from Washington, but more of the funding should,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what we deliver here.”

Buttigieg traveled to Arizona to highlight projects in Phoenix and Tucson, each receiving the maximum $25 million. In Phoenix, the money will help build a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Rio Salado, connecting the city’s south area to downtown.

In Tucson, the money will help redevelop a major street and replace a dilapidated 1960s vehicular bridge. It will also add a separate bicycle and pedestrian bridge in what Mayor Regina Romero called “a transformative investment in Tucson’s infrastructure.”

While the Tucson project will expand numbered lanes for motorists, some projects elsewhere will reduce them. For example, a $17 million grant will help reduce a five-lane highway to three lanes in the Chicago suburb of Munster, Indiana, in an effort to reduce traffic accidents. The money will also fund a 10-foot-wide multi-use pathway along the street and plant more than 250 trees.

For many road improvement grants, “we do it in the spirit of benefiting cyclists and pedestrians equally,” Buttigieg said.

Other recently announced projects under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program also include funding for bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Texas and Kansas each receive about $25 million for hiking and biking trails. Huntsville, Alabama is receiving $20 million to improve a pedestrian corridor connecting downtown to isolated neighborhoods. An additional $20 million helps fund a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Potomac River between Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, DC

Buttigieg said the US Department of Transportation received about $13 billion in grant applications.

A total of 166 projects across the country are receiving a tranche of the $2.2 billion. The funding marks a significant increase from the $983 million split among 90 projects in 2021. The allocation is the largest dating back to 2009 for a program that has undergone multiple name and emphasis changes during presidential administrations. of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

While still substantial, the funding doesn’t quite have the buying power that was anticipated when infrastructure legislation was passed by Congress last year. Inflation has driven up the cost of key transportation construction materials, such as steel plates for bridges and asphalt for road paving.

Projects this year range from a new seawall and harbor improvements in Sitka, Alaska, to the construction of a four-lane boardwalk in the Virgin Islands.

Among other projects, New Jersey is receiving $20 million to raise a road that serves as the main escape route for Atlantic City and its casino industry. In Louisiana, $20 million will go towards the design and construction of two train stations along a planned route between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Whatcom County, Washington will receive $25 million to replace a 60-year-old ferry serving rural Lummi Island with a hybrid-electric model.

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Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Mo.