The investments from the Mega and INFRA competitive grant programs are made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda and Bidenomics
WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced more than $4.9 billion in funding from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to 37 projects through two major discretionary grant programs, the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) grant program and the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program.
The Mega program, which was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and provides $5 billion in funding through 2026, is focused on projects that are uniquely large, complex and difficult to fund under traditional grant programs. For this round of funding, the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in 11 different projects that will generate national and regional economic, mobility, and safety benefits.
The INFRA program, for which funding was increased more than 50% by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also funds large scale, transformational infrastructure projects — for this round of funding the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in 28 projects that will improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas. Over half of the projects being funded through the INFRA program are in rural communities.
Two projects received awards from both programs, following through on the Department’s commitment to invest in non-traditional, multimodal projects that have been neglected because of complications around how to fund them.
“With this announcement, we are advancing projects so large, complex, and ambitious that they could not get funded under the infrastructure programs that existed prior to the Biden administration,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Our INFRA and Mega programs are helping build the cathedrals of American infrastructure: truly transformative projects that will change entire regions and our entire country for the better.”
Some of the selected Mega projects for this round include:
- $600 million to the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. The project will update Interstate 5—a critically important north-south route– with a seismically resilient replacement of the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. This update will make the bridge more resilient and better able to handle future challenges, including correcting structural weaknesses, seismic risks, and congestion issues, which currently occur regularly and impede both commuters and freight trucks. The bridge will be designed with specialized lanes for public and commercial travel. Additionally, the new bridge will offer accessible and affordable transportation options such as bus lanes, pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, and a light rail system to promote sustainable transportation.
- $142 million to the Eastern Pittsburgh Multimodal Corridor Project. The project will make multimodal improvements in the I-376 (Parkway East) corridor of Pittsburgh. The project will include resiliency improvements and reduce costly recurring maintenance by addressing a flood-prone area known as the “Bathtub” segment and landslides that often force emergency road closures. The project will also improve traffic management through dynamic lane use, dynamic speed limits, wrong way vehicle detection, and queue warning systems that are expected to reduce the higher-than-average crashes on the Parkway East in the project area.
- $371 million to the Sagamore Bridge Project. The project will restore and modernize the nearly 90-year-old Sagamore Bridge in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is currently considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. The project includes the design and construction of the bridge and approaches, improvements to local roadway connections, and major utility relocation. Replacing the bridge will ensure the infrastructure meets modern structural design criteria, including consideration of climate change, seismic effects and safety benefits.
- $130 million to the St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge Replacement Project. The project will replace the existing 100-year-old St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge in Florida with a new double-track structure with significantly improved clearance. The project addresses increasing conflicts between maritime needs for longer or more frequent bridge openings and rail needs for shorter and less frequent bridge closings. The project supports both freight and passenger rail, with the new Brightline rail service between Orlando and South Florida expected to add 32 bridge crossings daily, while also decreasing the potential for blocked grade crossings and vehicle collisions.
Some of the additional selected INFRA projects for this round include:
- $1 billion to the Blatnik Bridge Replacement Project in Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin — This project will replace the Blatnik Bridge, a major connection between the cities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, that without this project is at risk of closing within the next ten years due to decaying infrastructure. The updates will help prevent fatalities and serious injuries that are seven to ten times higher than the state averages, and improve employment access for approximately 6,000 daily commuters. Additionally, the new bridge will alleviate current load restrictions and ease lengthy detours that regional freight currently experiences. In addition to other economic benefits, the MnDOT has developed a contract with the Duluth Workforce Center for outreach to groups underrepresented in the heavy construction trades, while also leveraging its workforce development program with Duluth Public Schools, which will create good-paying, union jobs within the area.
- $17 million to the ARRC Bridge Replacement in Fairbanks, Alaska. The project will replace an aging railroad bridge that crosses the Chena River at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska. The bridge is part of Alaska Railroad Corporation’s (ARRC) Eielson Branch, which links ARRC’s main line at Fairbanks with Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base. The project will restore and modernize the bridge, shorten the bridge, and bring the bridge up to railroad industry standards. The project will also reduce emissions due to avoided truck miles from cargo diversions and improve the transportation of bulk goods and intermodal shipments by rail.
- $81 million to Completing the I-95 Missing Move and Ramps to Quonset Business Park in Kent and Washington Counties, Rhode Island. The project will complete gaps between Interstate 95 and RI-4 to create a direct freeway connection and remove traffic from local roads. The project will construct three ramps to service RI Route 403, expanding access to Quonset Business Park. These improvements will alleviate congested freight and non-freight traffic from local roads and provide direct access to major roadways, strengthening accessibility for rural communities.
The two projects that received funding from both the Mega and INFRA program are:
- $300 million to the Port of New Orleans for a new International Container Terminal in Louisiana. The new terminal will be an alternative to terminals located farther inland on the Mississippi River, which cannot accommodate larger vessels. It will be fully outfitted with a 1,700-foot wharf, an automated stacking crane yard, utilities, operations buildings, gates, and an intermodal rail yard. The project is receiving approximately $74 million in Mega funds and $226 million in INFRA funds.
- $66,421,000 for the Mineral County I-90 Improvement Project in Montana. The project will rehabilitate aging infrastructure on I-90 between the Idaho-Montana state border and the town of Alberton, improving pavement conditions to withstand harsh weather and replacing the Alberton Bridge structures on westbound I-90. The project is receiving approximately $32 million in Mega funds and $34 million in INFRA funds.
View the full list of Mega and, as well as INFRA awards can be found at https://www.transportation.gov/grants/mpdg-program. Rural awards announced in December of 2023. Applicants for Mega, INFRA and Rural were evaluated under the Department’s streamlined Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MPDG) application, a combined application designed to reduce the administrative burden of applying for grants that allowed applicants to apply for all three programs with the same application.
As with last year’s awards, despite these historic increases in funding, these programs were significantly oversubscribed. The Department received 117 applications requesting $24.7 billion in Mega funding and 190 applications requesting $24.8 billion from the INFRA program, far exceeding the amounts of funding available.
Applications for the MPDG grants were evaluated based on the criteria published in the Notice of Funding Opportunity last summer. The criteria include safety; state of good repair; economic impacts, freight movements and job creation; climate change, resilience, and the environment; equity, multimodal options and quality of life; and innovation areas such as technology, project delivery, and financing. The Department also considered cost effectiveness and project readiness in evaluating the more than 300 MPDG applications received.
More information about the combined MPDG funding opportunity and Mega, INFRA, and Rural programs HERE. The next application period is expected to open in mid-2024.