WASHINGTON — More than $640 million in funds have been awarded by the White House to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program to help rural communities complete vital transportation projects.
According to a DOT news release, the projects “will increase mobility, improve safety and generate regional economic growth in rural areas.”
“Rural roads face a disproportionally-high rate of fatalities, and a significant proportion of rural roads and bridges are in poor condition,” the news release states. “Today’s awards will improve the safety and reliability of movement of people and freight, as well as improve quality of life for rural residents, through investment in critical roads, bridges and other transportation systems.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that rural communities face some of the toughest transportation challenges, yet are often left out of major federal investments.
He called it “a pattern that we are changing that under President Biden’s leadership.”
“The grants we’re announcing today will make transportation in rural communities better, safer and more reliable,” Buttigieg said.
This year’s selected projects include:
- A total of $12 million for the Millen Rail Crossing in Millen, Georgia. This project will implement three grade-separated rail crossings to improve both residential and freight mobility in the area. This project will improve residents’ daily access to local schools, employment centers and social services while minimizing delays, as east-west travel is currently impeded by about10 trains a day, many of increasing length from the Port of Savannah. Intermodal freight mobility in the area will be improved as trucks cannot use the existing overpass. Additionally, the construction of these grade-separated crossings will allow for improved safety and reduce opportunities for trespassing.
- A total of $59.8 million for U.S. 64 corridor improvements in San Juan County, New Mexico. This project, located entirely within the traditional lands of the Navajo Nation, will improve access for residents to travel to school, jobs, medical treatment, shopping and more. The project will widen and rehabilitate approximately 21 miles of the U.S. 64 Corridor and replace four bridges, install fiber optic and cable, and approximately 50 corrugated metal culverts along the corridor.
- A total of $360,378 for the PICK 2.0 project in the state of Oklahoma. This project will expand microtransit services to rural and Tribal communities in Oklahoma by offering shared curb-to-curb on-demand rides. The project will have direct benefits for individuals living in rural and Tribal communities who may be transit-dependent.
- A total of $27.7 million for the northern Maine U.S. 1 Road Improvement Project in Aroostook County, Maine. This project will reconstruct two sections of U.S. 1 near Frenchville. It will primarily improve access to services, including the regional hospital and university in Fort Kent. By modernizing the road segments, the project will significantly lower long-term maintenance costs and better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists on this designated U.S. Bicycle Route. The reconstructed road, with improved stormwater runoff infrastructure, will be able to withstand more frequent heavy rain events and freeze-thaw cycles, which have been degrading the pavement at an increasing rate.
More information and a full list of this year’s grant recipients can be found by clicking here.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.