DOT's BUILD grants include $175 million for port projects

The following is text of a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT):

(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Tuesday announced $1.5 billion in discretionary grant funding to 91 projects in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The grants are made through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) transportation grants program and support road, rail, transit, and port infrastructure projects across the country.

“BUILD transportation grants are major investments in road, rail, transit, and port projects that serve as a down payment on this administration’s commitment to America’s infrastructure,” said Chao.

Demand for BUILD grants far exceeded available funds, and the locally driven nature of the applications was clear in their volume and geographic diversity. Eight hundred fifty-one eligible applications from all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia were sent in response to the BUILD Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), nearly double the applications received in 2017. Overall, applicants in 2018 requested more than $10.9 billion in funding.

Project applications were evaluated by a team of 222 career staff in the department and selected based on established criteria. The criteria included safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, and state of good repair. Further criteria included innovation, such as projects supporting connected or autonomous vehicles infrastructure, broadband service to underserved communities, as well as projects that demonstrate partnerships between the public and private sectors, and non-federal revenue for transportation infrastructure investments. The department prioritized rural projects that aligned with the criteria and addressed rural infrastructure needs. The grant announcements made today will contribute to the construction or refurbishment of over 200 bridges nationwide, from North Carolina to the refurbishment of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The BUILD transportation grants re-balance a 10-year historical underinvestment in rural communities. Rural applications more than doubled from the previous year’s TIGER applications. Underinvestment in rural infrastructure has led to a decline in the routes that connect communities in rural America. In this round, in which 59 percent of the applications were for rural projects, 62 projects were awarded to rural grant applications.

Several selected projects will contribute to America’s energy independence. The Permian Basin projects and the Port Arthur Multimodal Rail Expansion and Berth Expansion Project will both contribute to the efficient transportation of domestic energy products. Border security infrastructure is also supported through BUILD transportation grants, with projects such as the Calexico East Port of Entry Bridge Expansion in California making bridge improvements to accommodate freight traffic and improving other transportation facilities at the border crossing.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 appropriated $1.5 billion for BUILD transportation grants. For this round of BUILD transportation grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million for a single project, and no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single state. There is a $5 million minimum award for projects located in urban areas, and a $1 million minimum for rural projects.

More information about BUILD grants, including fact sheets on awarded projects, can be found here.

Among the grant award recipients: 

• Lower Yukon River Regional Port and Road Renovation Project, Alaska, $23,168,722 – The project will repair and upgrade approximately 3.5 miles of high-use service roads as well as construct a permanent barge/landing craft ramp and dock/wharf with up to two berths capable of handling 500-ton barges.

• Delaware Memorial Bridges Ship Collision Protection System, Delaware, $22,249,850 — The project will install eight 80-ft diameter sheet pile cells at the bases of the Delaware Memorial Bridges, which connect the states of Delaware and New Jersey, to better protect the structural integrity of the bridges in the event of a ship collision.

• Seagirt Marine Terminal Berth 3 Modernization P3 Project, Maryland, $6,554,575 — The project will add a second berth capable of serving 50-foot draft ultra large container vessels and make necessary supporting landside improvements. Project elements include an expanded access channel and turning basin, repairing existing wharf substructure, superstructure and paving, installing concrete runways in the container yard and hardware to support large ship-to-shore cranes.

• Carbide Dock Port Rail Rehabilitation and Truck Route Reconstruction, Michigan, $20,700,000 — The project will rehabilitate the Carbide Dock Port and reconstruct a portion of the connecting truck route on Easterday Avenue from Interstate 75 to Barbeau Street. The project also includes intersection improvements and water/sewer replacement.

• SEMO Port Loop Track Terminal Project, Missouri, $19,800,000 — The project will construct a new rail-barge terminal that consists of a loop track for the accommodation of unit trains, a rail-to-barge conveyor system for rapid unloading and product transfer, and a river barge load-out terminal.

• Market Street Marine Terminal Main Wharf Rehabilitation, New Hampshire, $7,504,854 — The project will rehabilitate approximately 17,500 square feet of the Main Wharf at the Market Street Marine Terminal by replacing the deteriorating wharf access bridge and decking the area between the shoreline and the back of the Main Wharf.

• Berth 6 Expansion: Multimodal On-Dock Rail Project, Texas, $20,000,000 — This project extends the Port Arthur Berth 5 wharf approximately 1,000 feet to create Berth 6 as a crane-capable pile-supported wharf, including a tied-back bulkhead and a cargo-handling laydown area. The project also modifies and expands the existing rail system to provide a direct connection between the existing rail spur and the dock tracks at Berth 5 and Berth 6.

• Virginia Inland Port Terminal Optimization and Grade Separation, Virginia, $15,500,197 — The project will optimize the flow of traffic inside the inland port’s gate through the addition of three long loading tracks, lengthening of existing loading tracks, and acquisition of two hybrid straddle carriers. Outside the gate, the project will construct a new highway-rail grade separation.

• Columbia River Barge Terminal Rail Access, Oregon, $19,414,875 — The project will establish rail-to-barge transloading capability within the Port’s barge terminals on the Columbia River.  Improvements include a mainline switch, approximately construction of 11,140 feet of rail line, three rail switches, a Terminal 1 crane and improvements, upgrades to Ullman Bridge, and construction of Marine Drive Bridges and corresponding road realignment, resurfacing, and earthwork.

• Coos Bay Rail Line Bridge Rehabilitation, Oregon, $20,000,000 — This project will construct improvements or replacements of approximately 15 bridges along the Coos Bay Rail Line to enhance capacity, meet Bridge Safety Standard requirements, and extend the useful life on the structures.

By Professional Mariner Staff