Monday, October 31, 2016

US DoT Wants Funding Requests to Improve Shipping and Transport Infrastructure

850 Million Dollars Designated for Upgrading Works
Shipping News Feature
US – The American Department of Transportation (DoT) has issued its second call for applications to access $850 million in Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grants available under the proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year. Critics however believe far more is needed to bring the US highway infrastructure, quite literally, up to speed.

The FASTLANE programme was established in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to fund critical freight and highway projects across the country. The FAST Act authorised the programme at $4.5 billion for fiscal years 2016 through 2020, including $850 million for FY 2017 to be awarded by the Secretary of Transportation. Secretary Foxx said:

“Across the country, there are sidelined projects that are essential to America’s cities and our transportation network, and leveraging a FASTLANE grant from the Build America Bureau can move many of these projects forward. FASTLANE grants give us an opportunity to identify and invest strategically in those projects that are critical to keeping our nation’s economic engine running.”

In the 2016 call for FASTLANE grants the DoT received 212 applications totaling nearly $9.8 billion in grant requests, over 13 times more funding than was allocated for FASTLANE which underscored the continuing need for infrastructure investment across the United States. The investment is especially critical as freight volume is expected to grow by 45% to 29 billion tonnes by 2040. The deadline for submitting applications is 8:00PM on December 15, 2016 and can be made here.

None of this of course actually addresses the monumental problems which America faces in terms of transport infrastructure decay. Regular readers will be familiar with the debacle over the Highway Trust Fund and the abject failures of elected politicians to face up to reality, something eloquently commented on last year by Foxx’s predecessor, Ray Lahood. The need country wide for improvements to highways, bridges etc. is estimated to be closer to $100 billion by some observers than the sums currently available.

Photo: The I-35W bridge which spanned the Mississippi River was deemed ‘structurally deficient’ by the Minneapolis DoT in several annual surveys from 1990 to 2005, partly due to the corrosion of key components. There was no inspection in 2007 and in August of that year the 8 lane bridge collapsed, killing 13 and injuring dozens of others.