WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has awarded $273.9 million to 12 projects through its new Rural Surface Transportation Grant program.
The program aims to assist communities around the U.S. complete transportation projects that increase connectivity, improve safety and reliability, support regional economic growth and improve the quality of life for people living in rural areas.
USDOT added that the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $44 billion to this program over the next five years.
Approximately $2 billion is available via the program through 2026 for projects that improve highways, bridge and tunnels, address highway safety, as well as increase access to agricultural, commercial, energy or freight facilities that support the economy.
“Infrastructure investments haven’t always reached rural America, leaving far too many roads, bridges and other parts of the transportation system across our country in disrepair,” USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement. “[This] is one of many ways this administration is delivering the investments that rural communities have gone without for far too long, modernizing transportation, creating economic opportunity and making life better for millions of people.”
The projects selected for funding in the first round of program grants include:
- The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development —$25 million in support of an estimated $52 million project to design and construct two ferry boats. One ferry boat will provide continued access across the Mississippi River between Highway 23 and Highway 39 at Pointe a la Hache, as well as between Belle Chasse and Scarsdale in Plaquemines Parish. The other ferry boat will provide continued access across the Calcasieu Ship Channel in Cameron Parish.
- The North Carolina Department of Transportation — $10.4 million in support of a nearly $16 million project to expand on-demand transit services for up to 11 rural communities statewide.
- The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation — $69 million as part of a more than $416 million project to construct approximately 6.1 miles of new four-lane limited access highway connecting U.S. Routes 11/15 near Selinsgrove to U.S. Route 15 near Winfield and will include an interchange and connector within Shamokin Dam to PA Route 61 into Sunbury. That new road will boost safety by separating trucks and other through traffic from local traffic, making travel in the area more efficient and safer for not only vehicular traffic but pedestrians and cyclists as well.
- The Virginia Department of Transportation — $25 million toward a $300 million effort to add a third lane along a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 64 in each direction, while widening shoulders, adding rumble strips, and add wider and flatter clear zones to improve roadway safety. The additional lane capacity aims to improve spacing of heavy vehicles while boosting safety, efficiency, and reliability along what is known as the I-64 Innovation Corridor, supporting access to more than 1 million jobs in the region.
- The West Virginia Department of Transportation — $25 million towards a $587 million project to construct a 15-mile segment of the Coalfields Expressway, from West Virginia Route 16 to the City of Mullens. The project seeks address the many blind curves and poor sight distances on the existing roadway while reducing conflict points and improving safe access to driveways for residents and businesses along the route. The project includes shoulders, median strips, increased radius of roadway curvature and longer and flatter vertical curves to improve safety. The project is also expected to save over 8,000 travel hours annually.
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