WASHINGTON—Last week, United States Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao made two major announcements:
- The Trump Administration will award $335 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to 80 airports in 25 states
- The Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has selected 50 projects in 29 states to receive competitive grant funding under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.
“Airport infrastructure projects funded by this $335 million in federal funding will advance safety, improve travel, generate jobs and provide other economic benefits for local communities,” said Chao.
The total includes $300 million from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) and $35 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants to equal a 100% federal share.
“These 61 AIP grants will allow airports around the country to begin and complete projects that are vital to the safe and efficient operation of our nation’s airports,” said FAA Administrator Stephen M. Dickson.
The grants will be used for a variety of critical infrastructure and safety projects. The projects include purchasing aircraft rescue and firefighting equipment, constructing runways and taxiways, repairing runways and taxiways, installing aircraft lighting and signage, conducting airport master plan studies, and installing airport perimeter fencing.
The rail projects selected include a wide variety of railroad investments that improve the safety, efficiency and reliability of freight and intercity passenger service.
“This $320.6 million federal investment will upgrade U.S. rail infrastructure and enhance rail safety in communities across America,” said Chao.
Nine of the projects were selected to specifically address safety at highway-rail grade crossings, and deter illegal trespassing, which is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in America. Other projects expand, upgrade, or rehabilitate railroad track, switches, yard, and station facilities to increase performance and service delivery.
“We remain committed to helping address pressing transportation capital needs, particularly in rural areas,” said FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory. “I am pleased that so many high-quality applications were submitted for worthwhile investments by the FRA,” Batory added.
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized the CRISI Program to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail systems. Rural projects, which have a minimum 25% funding requirement under the CRISI Program, received over 60% of the funds. Of the 50 projects that were awarded grants, 32 are located in Opportunity Zones, which were created to revitalize economically distressed communities using private investments.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) soliciting applications for this round of CRISI Program grant funding was published in the Federal Register on April 20, 2020. FRA subsequently provided web-based training and technical assistance for eligible applicants.
A list of projects selected for FY 2020 CRISI funding can be viewed here.