by Jacob Fischler, Virginia Mercury
The U.S. Department of Transportation will send more than $2.2 billion in grants to state, tribal and local governments under a grant program that was expanded under the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law.
The $2.26 billion for 162 projects provides funds for each of the 50 states, two territories and the District of Columbia. It is similar to the allocation for the grant program last year, the first after President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law that added funding for the program.
The projects include improvements and expansions of roads, rail, bridges, pedestrian trails and maritime infrastructure.
In Virginia, projects receiving funds include:
$23.2 million for the Eastern Shore of Virginia Rail Trail: “Funds for this project will convert an approximately 16.8-mile segment of the abandoned Bay Coast Railroad to a 10-foot shared-use path starting at the Town of Nassawadox and connecting to several historic towns until its terminus in the Town of Olney.”
$14.4 million for the Downtown Harrisonburg Streetscape and Mobility Transformation Project: “Funds for this project will convert a lane of US-11 (Liberty Street and Noll Drive) to a two-way separated bicycle facility between the intersections of Main Street and Noll Drive and Grattan Street and Liberty Street. A shared use path will also be constructed along Main Street between Grattan Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.”
$3.6 million for improving access and safety for Chesterfield’s Meadowdale-Meadowbrook community: “Funds for this project will implement the initial feasibility studies, NEPA documentation, 60 percent construction plans, and public engagement for the Hopkins Interchange and Road Diet. The project includes three core elements: (1) a road diet for approximately 0.9 miles of Hopkins Road from Beulah Road to Meadowdale Boulevard, (2) the Chippenham Parkway and Hopkins Road interchange improvements, and (3) implementation of micro-transit in the Meadowbrook
$720,000 for Herndon’s 2050 Comprehensive Plan
The Transportation Department has managed a similar discretionary grant program since 2010, though the name of the program and criteria have changed with each presidential administration. Funding levels, set by Congress, also vary year to year, ranging from roughly $500 million to more than $2 billion in each of the two years since the infrastructure law passed.
Under Biden, the department has prioritized projects that advance climate goals, racial equity and safety.
In a call with reporters previewing the announcement Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasized that all the projects were proposed and planned by local authorities.
“It is particularly focused on communities’ needs,” he said. “We don’t design the projects at headquarters. We are proceeding very much on the idea that the answers don’t all come from Washington, but more of the funding should.”
No project received more than $25 million from the program, the maximum for projects of less than $45 million total cost. The department selected 22 projects to receive that maximum.
The funding is split between rural and urban projects, White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu told reporters.
Most of the funding — 70% — will go toward either areas of persistent poverty or historically disadvantaged communities. That represented a record high for the program, Buttigieg said.
Many of the communities that received funding had sought federal help for the projects for years, Buttigieg said. The department will work with communities that submitted highly rated proposals that were not accepted in this round to improve their applications for future years, he said.
About 10 projects that received grants this year had applied last year, Assistant Secretary of Transportation Policy Christopher Coes said.
A full list of projects is available here.
Mercury editor Sarah Vogelsong contributed to this story.
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