Freight wins big in federal infrastructure package

FreightWaves |

By John Gallagher | December 13, 2018

The Trump administration doled out a record $1.5 billion in an annual infrastructure funding program that also saw the largest-ever percentage of the money awarded to freight projects.

The grants, announced on Dec. 11, were distributed through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, created in 2009 under the Obama administration (when they were called TIGER grants) to support road, rail, port, and transit projects, along with technology initiatives that support them.

The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors, a Washington, DC, freight infrastructure lobbying group, noted that this year’s funding level was not only three times higher than the typical level of $500 million, but freight infrastructure – as opposed to projects aimed at passengers or pedestrians – took a record 66% of the entire package, beating out last year’s 56% that was allocated for freight.

“Competitive grant programs provide a funding opportunity for projects that are difficult to fund or do not qualify through traditional funding programs due to their complexity, size, or cost,” said CAGTC executive director Elaine Nessle in a statement.

“These programs, such as BUILD, provide an invaluable tool for critical freight infrastructure projects, which are often large in scale, crossing multiple jurisdictions and modes. We applaud Congress’ recognition of these important programs by significantly increasing the program’s funding in FY18 and USDOT’s commitment to making vital freight investments.”

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