$2.2 billion infrastructure budget paves way for new roads, bridges, bike lanes across US

U.S. transportation officials announced $2.2 billion in local infrastructure projects Thursday, paving the way for new bridges, roads, bike paths, railroads and ports in dozens of communities across the country.

The competitive grants are more than double the amount awarded the previous year under the same program. The influx comes from a $1 Trillion Infrastructure Act supported by President Joe Biden, who provided an additional $7.5 billion over five years for the appropriations.

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

“This is a program that recognizes many of the most interesting and compelling ideas and designs and plans that don’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 a maximum of $25 million. In Phoenix, the money will help build a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Rio Salado, connecting the city’s south side with downtown.

In Tucson, the money will renovate a prominent street and replace a 1960s vehicular bridge that is in poor condition. It will also add a separate bicycle and pedestrian bridge as part of what Mayor Regina Romero called “a transformative investment in Tucson’s infrastructure.”

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While the Tucson project will expand the number of lanes for motorists, some projects elsewhere will reduce them. For example, a $17 million grant will help narrow a five-lane road 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-purpose path along the street and plant more than 250 trees.

Focus on cyclists and pedestrians

For many road improvement grants, “we’re doing it with a view to benefiting the bicycle and pedestrian side as well,” Buttigieg said.

Other recently announced projects in the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program also provide funding for bike and pedestrian paths.

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

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

A total of 166 projects across the country will receive part of the 2.2 billion. The funding marks a significant increase from the $983 million spread across 90 projects in 2021. The award is the largest dating back to 2009 for a program that has undergone several name and emphasis changes under the presidential administrations of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

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While still significant, the funding does not have quite the purchasing power that was expected when the infrastructure legislation passed Congress last year. That’s because inflation has driven up the cost of key transportation materials, such as steel plates for bridges and asphalt for paving roads.

This year’s projects range from a new beach and harbor improvements in Sitka, Alaska, to the construction of a four-lane parkway in the Virgin Islands.

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

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