U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao has announced $72.5 million in discretionary grant funding to four projects in the state of California. 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 grants are major investments that will help create jobs and improve quality of life in large and small communities across our country,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
Among the projects receiving funds is the North County Corridor Project in neighboring Stanislaus County.
The North County Corridor Project received $20 million in grant funds. The project will construct a three-mile segment of the State Route 108 North County Corridor. The segment will be a six lane, controlled access expressway that will move SR-108 to the south of the town of Riverbank as the first phase of an 18-mile expressway that will bypass the communities of Modesto, Riverbank, and Oakdale.
Also approved was the Better Market Street Phase I, which received $15 million. The project will construct roadway improvements on Market Street between 6th and 8th Streets in downtown San Francisco. Improvements include roadway resurfacing, streetcar track replacement, replacement and upgrade of traffic signals, and a new F-line streetcar turnaround loop at McAllister and Charles J Brenham Streets. The BUILD project is part of a broader reconstruction of 2.2 miles of Market Street that will include non-BUILD funded improvements such as new water and sewer lines, broadband conduit installation, ADA-accessible curb ramps and streetcar access ramps, and landscaping and streetscape improvements.
Other projects are in Calexico, for bridge expansion work, and along State Route 46 for highway widening.
Demand for BUILD grants far exceeded available funds, and the locally-driven nature of the applications was clear in their volume and geographic diversity. More than 850 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 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 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.
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.