U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced awards for nearly $1 billion in discretionary infrastructure grants this week through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program. The funding has been awarded to 90 projects in 47 states, with nearly a quarter going towards rail and transit.
The grants give an important preview into the Biden Administration’s transportation priorities. While fully half of the grants went to roads, there was greater distribution across modes than under the prior administration. A Bloomberg Government analysis reported that 18% of funds went to bike and pedestrian projects, 17.6% to transit, 7.7% to maritime projects, and 7% to rail.
Project highlights from the USDOT’s announcement include:
Charlotte Multimodal Transit Hub
The City of Charlotte, North Carolina will receive $15 million to construct a new multimodal transit center to replace the existing open-air bus terminal in downtown Charlotte. The new transit center will include an underground bus concourse with seamless connections to LYNX Blue Line light rail, the CityLYNX Gold Line streetcar, local and regional bus service, and a new bicycle and pedestrian trail. The City of Charlotte intends to develop new retail and office space atop the new facility once completed.
The redesigned terminal will eliminate the need for riders to cross active bus lanes to access various bus stops and will improve street-level access with signalized crosswalks. By enhancing connections to LYNX rail and constructing a new bicycle and pedestrian trail, the project supports quality of life by providing more transportation options. By constructing the new transit hub underground, the project supports additional development in a dense and transit-rich area of Charlotte, increasing environmental sustainability and economic competitiveness.
Springfield Rail Improvements Project
This project will construct Usable Segment III of the Springfield Rail Improvements Project, and includes a new underpasses at Madison and Jefferson Streets, grading and trackwork from Capitol Avenue to Mason Street, and new grade crossing/pedestrian signals at Washington Street, Monroe Street, and Capitol Avenue. The proposed project is the third segment of the larger Springfield Rail Improvements Project which will double-track a portion of the Chicago to St. Louis Union Pacific freight and Amtrak passenger corridor for 110 mph services and relocate the existing Amtrak/Union Pacific Railroad corridor to a new expanded corridor adjacent to the existing Norfolk Southern tracks through Springfield.
The project will provide safety benefits through the elimination of at-grade railroad crossings and by improving crossing protection for transportation users. The project reduces stormwater impacts by providing over 110,000 gallons of stormwater storage below ground thus improving environmental sustainability. The underpass will accommodate a safe and improved bicycle/pedestrian path by vertically separating them from train traffic.
Yuma Multi-Modal Transportation Center
The project converts a historic building in downtown Yuma into a regional transfer hub and central, multi-modal transit center for commuter rail, intercity bus, local public transit, and ridesharing. The project includes a renovated pedestrian pathway to Amtrak, bus bays for Greyhound and Yuma Area Transit, transit administration offices, ticket counters and kiosks, a waiting area for taxies, van pools, private shuttles, and rideshare, as well as improved facilities for transit users.
The project consolidates transit options in a disadvantaged, underserved community in which low-income residents rely on affordable transit service, and, therefore, reduces waiting times and expands access to those services. Installing passenger accommodations and amenities where few currently exist, such as environmental controls, security cameras, restrooms, and adequate lighting improves safety, especially for vulnerable system users.
A. Philip Randolph Regional Multimodal Transportation Hub and Complete Streets Connectivity
This project will improve multimodal connectivity in Palatka by lengthening the passenger loading platform at the Amtrak station to accommodate a baggage area and adjusting the platform height to meet ADA requirements and allow bicycles to be loaded and unloaded at the station and constructing complete streets improvements including resurfacing the roadway, installing new ADA-compliant sidewalks and curb and gutter designating bike lanes, and adding other accessory safety improvements in the project area.
A shift of the major mode of transportation from personally operated vehicles to public
transportation via improvement of the Multimodal Transportation Hub, as well as to walking and biking through the complete-street connectivity, will allow citizens to be able to comfortably travel to needed destinations, significantly improving quality of life. The project will repair and improve roadways to bring them into a state of good repair and mitigate the unsafe nature of the high travel speeds in the area and feature design by bringing the project components up to current safety standards.
Detroit New Center Intermodal Facility Project
The Project will construct an intermodal facility, which will include: a combined rail and bus station, providing ticketing, waiting, baggage handling and amenities on the north side of the tracks; a 12-berth intercity bus boarding and alighting area on the south side of the tracks, covered by a multi-level parking garage; a lengthened and widened passenger rail platform in approximately the current platform location (along the north face of the northern track); and a passenger tunnel connecting the combined passenger station and rail platform to the bus platforms and parking garage.
Improvements to the project will bring the outdated facility into a state of good repair equipped with ADA amenities, as well as greatly improve the efficiency of moving workers and connect residents to jobs. The project will also facilitate the availability of timed transfers between Amtrak and bus services, creating more cohesive transportation travel.