There is now roughly $1.5 billion in new funding available for critical transportation projects, and government officials are moving quickly to finalize plans in advance of releasing solicitations.
The revenue is part of the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Deployment (BUILD) grant program. Formerly known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, BUILD will provide funding for more than 90 road, rail, transit and port projects planned across the country.
BUILD is not a “magic bullet”. The federal government encourages using these funds with a variety of other financing sources including: municipal bonds; public-private partnerships; and/or alternative funding from other sources. The funding needs for transportation projects are great, as evidenced by the fact that requests for funding last year totaled $10.9 billion.
Projects in rural and urban areas are eligible for the grant. However, urban areas must consolidate other funding with BUILD grants, while public officials in rural areas can use the grant for up to 100% of a project’s cost. Rural applications in 2018 represented 59% of the total applications, according to the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT).
Approved projects include the construction or rehabilitation of more than 200 bridges nationwide. Notably, USDOT has awarded a $25 million BUILD grant for the roughly $337.6 million restoration and rehabilitation of the Manhattan and Brooklyn approaches to the Brooklyn Bridge’s arches and their foundations. Oregon’s International Port of Coos Bay also received a $20 million BUILD grant to fund improvements on approximately 15 bridges along its rail line. The roughly $25 million project will enhance safety and extend the life of the bridges.
Bridges are not the only eligible projects. The city of Calexico, California received a $20 million grant that will be put toward the nearly $30 million Calexico East Port of Entry Bridge Expansion project in rural California. Additionally, the city of Spring Hill, Tennessee will use its $25 million grant to help fund construction of an estimated $48.3 million interchange project on I-65. South Carolina was also awarded $25 million to help fund a $51.1 million freight rail infrastructure improvements project.
The largest grants awarded were $25 million, according to USDOT. No more than $150 million awarded in any state, but Texas dominated the field of grant recipients.
The state received five BUILD grants totaling more than $104 million. The city of Haslet will use a $20 million grant to defray the costs of a $59 million rural project expected to relieve traffic congestion. Funding of was awarded to
The Brazos Transit District was awarded $14.05 million. The district will use the grant to help pay for a $17.5 million project to replace more than 30 existing buses with diesel and zero-emission battery-electric buses.
In Maryland, grant funds totaling $6.5 million will help fund a $32.7 million public-private partnership project to add a second berth at the Seagirt Marine Terminal. More than 100 traffic signals in South-Central Maine will be replaced or enhanced through a$8.2 million BUILD grant that will pay for half of the $16.48 million project’s first phase. Some of the signal systems will include features such as adaptive signal technology, dedicated short-range communications and infrared camera detection.
A $26 million project in Youngstown, Ohio comprising autonomous transit shuttles, transit waiting environments, pedestrian and bicycle facilities and LED lighting was also awarded a $10.8 million BUILD grant.
The positive impact of BUILD grants is undeniable. Designed to stimulate stagnant infrastructure spending nationwide, the funding will also provide jobs and economic stimulus for all areas of the country.
The new funding is a positive indicator of a busy year in 2019.
President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships
Mary Scott Nabers is president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc., a business development company specializing in government contracting and procurement consulting throughout the U.S. Her recently released book, Inside the Infrastructure Revolution