Made available through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development or BUILD transportation grant program, the funds are designed to support road, rail, transit and port infrastructure projects across the country. BUILD is the successor to the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER program, which began in fiscal year 2009 and was in place for nine years.
The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) said freight infrastructure took 66 percent of BUILD Funding, which it said was the highest percentage in the history of the BUILD and TIGER programs.
“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 Elaine Nessle, executive director of the CAGTC.
“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.”
Port-related projects will receive a total of $229.23 million, or about 15.28 percent of the $1.5 billion awarded under BUILD. That’s the largest number of projects and the highest dollar amount of port-related awards ever under the TIGER or BUILD programs.
Still, the American Association of Port Authorities believes that percentage should be 25 percent. Funding under the programs have ranged from 8.6 percent to 14.6 percent in prior years.
Kurt Nagle, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Port Authorities, said direct funding for maritime infrastructure projects, including connections to ports, will improve freight mobility, which helps reduce transportation costs and makes U.S. exports more attractive to overseas buyers.
“BUILD grants are one of the few federal funding programs available to public port authorities to help them pay for critical infrastructure to move and handle freight more efficiently,” said Nagle. “We’re pleased that port-related projects garnered nearly a sixth of the total amount in this round of BUILD. The $229-plus million in port-related awards will help leverage nearly $412 million in total project costs.
“Port-related projects should be among the leading candidates,” Nagle said. “It’s also important that projects from the full range of port sizes and types receive grant awards in any future rounds of BUILD funding.”
However, only a small fraction of the projects for which funding was requested are getting money.
DOT says the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 allocated $1.5 billion for the program, but there were 851 applicants asking for a total of $10.9 billion.
Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao called the grants “a down payment on this administration’s commitment to America’s infrastructure.”
A complete list of selected projects and award amounts is available on the USDOT website.