U.S. awards nearly $1 billion in infrastructure grants

FILE PHOTO: Travelers are stuck in a traffic jam as people hit the road before the busy Thanksgiving Day weekend in Chicago, Illinois

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Department said Friday it was awarding nearly $1 billion in infrastructure grants as the Biden administration prepares to dramatically boost funding on the nation's roads, bridges, rail, transit and other projects.

The grants under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program are going to 90 projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, to rebuild roads and add rail lines -- but also create new green space, new trails, bike lanes and safer streets for pedestrians.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the department had received a "a ten-to-one ratio of requests to available dollars" for the grants.

Seattle will receive $20 million to reconstruct a 1.1-mile road segment and will also add a bike lane. Washington County, Oregon will receive $12.2 million for a 15-mile trail.

Charlotte, North Carolina will receive $15 million to construct a new multimodal transit center and New Orleans is getting $18.5 million to improve transit fare collection. Manchester, New Hampshire will receive $25 million to reconnect the city’s South Millyard district to surrounding neighborhoods and downtown.

Atlanta will receive a $900,000 planning grant to advance a project to "cap" the I-75/I-85 Downtown Connector highway, which would create 14 acres of green space and reconnect neighborhoods separated from downtown by the highway.

Republican Representative Garret Graves said the Biden administration was funding green space rather than focusing on eliminating congestion. "This is supposed to be a transportation program. We sit in traffic and they get ‘green space.'"

Under the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden, the Transportation Department will receive $660 billion over five years, including $210.5 billion to be awarded in competitive grants. Of that $71 billion is for new grant programs.

Department officials are crossing the country to tout infrastructure spending. Buttigieg is in Phoenix to discuss the bill's impact on transit and airport funding, while Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg is Pennsylvania and other department officials are in California.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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