Department of Transportation Proposes $50 Million Grant Funding for I-35 Improvements
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) today announced it is proposing to award the Texas Department of Transportation a $50 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant to improve approximately 7.4 miles of I-35 across Texas, Oklahoma, and the Chickasaw Nation, which will help improve safety and infrastructure resiliency and improve freight movement. This grant will also help the local economy and create jobs.
“These timely investments in our infrastructure will create jobs and support regional economies, while helping to spur innovation, confront climate change, and address inequities across the country,” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The INFRA grant will fund improvements to approximately 7.4 miles of I-35 across Texas, Oklahoma, and the Chickasaw Nation. The project includes widening the Interstate, modernizing the corridor design by flattening curves, replacing the northbound and southbound bridges with wider and higher structures over the Red River, updating the frontage roads, installing a fixed concrete barrier in the median, adding retaining walls and culverts, installing intelligent transportation systems improvements including dynamic message signs, adding pedestrian elements, and converting an interchange.
Safety, Innovation, Efficiency
The project supports economic vitality by reducing travel times for cars and trucks (freight accounts for 20% of traffic along the corridor). The project will reduce the frequency of crashes on the corridor by reducing the curvature of the roadway in three major locations, adding a new lane in each direction, and adding lighting to the corridor. The new bridge structures will have a higher clearance over the river below, making the corridor more resilient to climate change. The project also incorporates innovation by installing ITS, including dynamic messaging signs and communications infrastructure, vehicle detection, and CCTV cameras. The project is located within an Opportunity Zone.
INFRA grants were selected based on several criteria. In addition to prioritizing projects that would improve local economies, create jobs, and meet all statutory requirements, for the first time in USDOT’s history, grants were considered by how they would address climate change, environmental justice, and racial equity.
Further, USDOT prioritized funding to rural areas to address historic underinvestment. Approximately 44% of proposed funding will be awarded to rural projects, which exceeded INFRA’s statutory requirement by 19%. INFRA projects were also rated on the extent that they applied innovative technology and whether they could deliver projects in a cost-effective manner.
Demand for INFRA grants far exceeded available funds. USDOT evaluated 157 eligible applications from 42 states, as well as Guam. Applicants collectively requested approximately $6.8 billion in grant funds—more than seven times the funding available.
As required under the FAST Act, Congress will have 60 days to review the Department’s proposed project awardees. After the 60-day review period, the Department is free to begin obligating funding.
The full list of proposed awards is on the Department of Transportation’s website: https://www.transportation.gov/buildamerica/financing/infra-grants/infra-2021-fact-sheets.
More information can be found on the Department’s INFRA site located at: www.transportation.gov/INFRA