$830M Awarded for Transportation Resilience

TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2024


The Biden-Harris Administration recently unveiled almost $830 million in new grant awards to help strengthen surface-transportation systems against extreme weather events.

The new awards from the U.S. Department of Transportation are reportedly the first of their kind dedicated completely to transportation infrastructure resilience and are expected to go out to 80 projects across the United States.

About the Grants

The funding was reportedly made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program.

The new grants are reportedly meant to help with the PROTECT Formula funding that is already going out to states for these kinds of projects.

The grant program reportedly works to fund projects that help stabilize surface transportation systems against extreme weather events. It is reportedly focused on structures like roads, bridges, highways, public transportation, pedestrian facilities, ports and intercity passenger rails.

By increasing the resilience of these assets, the DOT and Biden expect the investments to cut down on short- and long-term costs by reducing future needs for maintenance and reconstruction.

As part of the announcement, the Federal Highway Administration will reportedly award funding under four different grant types to 80 projects in 37 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The grants will reportedly include:

  • Planning Grants—26 projects will reportedly receive around $45 million to help develop resilience-improvement plans, resilience planning, predesign and design activities, capacity-building activities, as well as evacuation planning and preparation initiatives;
  • Resilience Improvement Grants—36 projects will reportedly receive around $621 million to improve the strength of existing surface-transportation infrastructure by upgrading drainage, relocating roadways, elevating bridges, or incorporating upgrades to allow infrastructure to meet or exceed design standards;
  • Community Resilience and Evacuation Routes—10 projects will reportedly receive around $45 million for improvements to enhance the resilience of evacuation routes or to improve their capacity and add redundant evacuation routes; and
  • At-risk Coastal Infrastructure—Eight projects will receive around $119 million to protect, strengthen, or relocate coastal highway and non-rail infrastructure.

“From wildfires shutting down freight rail lines in California to mudslides closing down a highway in Colorado, from a drought causing the halt of barge traffic on the Mississippi River to subways being flooded in New York, extreme weather, made worse by climate change, is damaging America’s transportation infrastructure, cutting people off from getting to where they need to go, and threatening to raise the cost of goods by disrupting supply chains,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“Today, through a first-of-its-kind program created by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are awarding nearly $830 million to make transportation infrastructure in 39 states and territories more resilient against climate change, so people and supply chains can continue to move safely.”

The program is also expected to aid in environmental justice efforts by addressing the issues in disadvantaged communities that make them more vulnerable to hazards. Project selections in this round of grants reportedly include:

  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will reportedly receive $56 million to replace the 86-year-old, structurally deficient Arc of Justice Bridge, providing a critical connection for residents and emergency services during extreme flooding events. This is part of a larger flood-control system, working to mitigate the impacts of climate change and increase infrastructure resilience;
  • Davis, California, will reportedly receive around $24 million to install cool pavement technologies and replace roadway underlayment to fix portions of roadways in the Davis community to guard against extreme heat conditions, combat urban heat island (UHI) effects, repair underlayment and complete other improvements;
  • West Memphis, Arkansas, will reportedly receive over $16 million to restore hundreds of acres of floodplain along the Mississippi River’s western bank with nature-based solutions like restoring wetlands and new hardwood forests. This is expected to help to protect five major surface-transportation routes—I-40, I-55, two freight-rail lines and the area’s only dedicated bicycle and pedestrian crossing—from repeated flooding;
  • Philadelphia will reportedly receive $14 million to rehabilitate two deteriorating bridges over Wissahickon Creek in Northwest Philadelphia. Built in the 1800s, the Bells Mill Road and Valley Green Road bridges give access to Wissahickon Valley Park, a location in the city that experiences frequent flooding. Improvements also include the creation and restoration of wetlands; and
  • The Oglala Sioux Tribe In South Dakota will reportedly receive $60 million to improve two sections of BIA Route 33, which crosses the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in rural southwestern South Dakota and connects the communities of Rockyford, Manderson and Red Cloud. The project includes regrading the roadway to widen ditches, increasing the size and number of culverts, raising sections of the road and widening the road to add shoulders for emergencies and evacuations.

The DOT adds that these awards are in line with the objectives of the National Climate Resilience Framework.

“Every community in America knows the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, including increasingly frequent heavy rain and flooding events across the country and sea-level rise that is inundating infrastructure in coastal states,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt.

“This investment from the Biden-Harris Administration will ensure our infrastructure is built to withstand more frequent and unpredictable extreme weather, which is vitally important for people and businesses that rely on roads and bridges being open to keep our economy moving.”

The full list of grant recipients can be viewed here.

About the Program

At the end of July 2022, the FHWA announced the first-of-its-kind infrastructure program to help states prepare for and respond to extreme weather events. The $7.3 billion PROTECT Formula Program funding is available through President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law.

The PROTECT program offers the funding to states over five years to make transportation infrastructure more resilient to future weather events and other natural disasters, such as wildfires, flooding and extreme heat. The focus will be on resilience planning, making resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and addressing at-risk highway infrastructure.

According to the FHWA, in general, eligible projects include highway and transit projects, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and port facilities including those that help improve evacuations or disaster relief. States are encouraged to work with regional and local partner organizations to prioritize transportation, emergency response improvements and address vulnerabilities.

Eligible improvements can involve adapting existing transportation infrastructure or new construction to keep communities safe by bolstering infrastructure’s ability to withstand extreme weather events and other physical hazards. Additionally, projects may include the use of natural or green infrastructure to buffer future storm surges and provide flood protection, as well as aquatic ecosystem restoration.

The FHWA reports that PROTECT builds on other U.S. Department of Transportation actions to support the Biden Administration’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. These actions include a proposed rule for states and municipalities to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the Carbon Reduction Program, which will provide $6.4 billion in formula funding to states and local governments to develop carbon reduction strategies; and the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, which will provide $5 billion to states to build out a national electric vehicle charging network.

A breakdown of estimated funding for the program over five years by state can be found here. Applications for the first round of program funding opened in April of last year.

   

Tagged categories: Climate monitoring; Construction; Department of Transportation (DOT); Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Finance; Funding; Grants; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Rehabilitation/Repair; Roads/Highways; Safety; Transportation

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.