Oct 25th 2017 | Posted in Infrastructure by Kristin Gordon

Colorado has agreed to provide 70 percent of the $350 million needed to widen 17 miles of Interstate 25 from Monument to Castle Rock if El Paso County succeeds in getting an Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant. Under the current proposal, construction for the “Gap” project would begin in 2019. A couple of other projects vying for the grant include an expansion from two to three lanes in each direction of I-25 north from Colorado 402 in Loveland to Colorado 56, north of Longmont. The second project would shoulder lanes on westbound Interstate 70 from Twin Tunnels to Empire Junction.

The Colorado Transportation Commission would allocate most of the money that comes from a new state law which is expected to provide about $1.8 billion for transportation through the sale of state-owned buildings. The deadline to apply for the INFRA grant program is Nov. 2 and awards will be announced in the spring. The county will be competing against hundreds of submissions for a piece of the $1.5 billion available to infrastructure projects across the country. Administered by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT), INFRA is a $1.56 billion competitive program targeting U.S. economic revitalization via infrastructure investment. Big infrastructure projects awarded through the INFRA program must be at least $25 million and grants for small projects must be at least $5 million.  

INFRA Big infrastructure projects have until Nov. 2 to request a portion of $1.5BThe Virginia Department of Transportation is submitting a request for $300 million from the federal government to help pay for the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project slated for 2024. The INFRA grant would assist in the $4.2 billion project. Regional funds- gas and sales tax money through the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission- are set to pay for 84 percent of the project. The rest is expected to come from state grants.  

Local officials in Bartholomew County plan to seek an INFRA grant to pay for a portion of the $30 million State Road 46/State Road 11 railroad overpass in Indiana. The county government will pay up to $2 million for the overpass, while the city of Columbus has earmarked about $9.5 million. The plan is to begin construction on the overpass in 2019, within a year or two of when CSX, a supplier of rail-based freight transportation in North America, will begin running longer, faster and heavier trains on the Louisville & Indiana rail line from Louisville to Indianapolis, hauling freight north through Columbus. 

The Oregon Department of Transportation received approval from Deschutes County Commissioners to move forward in its application submission for an INFRA grant. The assistance would help fund the department’s package of improvements for U.S. Highway 97 near Bend’s northern edge. The project would reroute the highway between NE Empire Road and Cooley Road to reduce accidents and congestion. House Bill 2017, earmarked $50 million for improvements at the intersection of Highway 97 and Cooley Road. Improvements are expected to get underway by 2020. Another project, estimated at $250 million, would route the Bend Parkway to the east of its current route toward the railroad tracks, and repurpose the existing parkway as an extension of NE Third Street.

At the end of September, the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission approved applying to receive $32.4 million from the $1.5 billion INFRA program. Missouri has $18.43 million dedicated for the project but still needs $32.4 million to complete the $50.83 million roadwork. Lack of funds has prevented the Missouri Department of Transportation from completing a 4.8-mile segment of I-49 to the Arkansas/Missouri state line. The uncompleted segment, called the Missouri/Arkansas Connector, is part of an 18.9-mile gap in I-49 between the two states. The connector would complete a 265-mile segment of I-49 between Alma and Kansas City. The Arkansas and the Missouri highway departments would own and operate the interstate. Arkansas is awaiting Missouri to start its part of the project before moving forward to complete a segment of the connector that would tie into Missouri’s project and to build an interchange in Bella Vista.

Arkansas and Missouri have the environmental studies and design completed and right-of-way purchased for the 18-mile project. So far, the Arkansas Department of Transportation has completed 12 miles of the connector, which was designated as state highway 549. In May, 6.4 miles of the connector opened to traffic. The highway was initially built to be two lanes but will be expanded to four lanes. Construction on the remaining two lanes for the connector might go to bid as early as this fall.

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