Awards demonstrate the ability of small, multimodal freight projects to deliver economic value through a competitive funding approach

WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released its proposed list of 10 project awards under the small project fiscal year 2017 (FY17) Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Project program (known as FASTLANE). Of the 10 proposed awards, most were multimodal and all featured freight infrastructure improvements. The Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC) has long advocated infrastructure funding through competitive grants based on objective economic criteria and applauds USDOT’s rationale in selecting these projects.

“The Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program was designed by Congress to fund projects that help improve America’s commerce and freight mobility especially,” said CAGTC President Leslie Blakey. “We are pleased that this round of grants lives up to that standard. Rural lawmakers have long expressed concerns that competitive grants may not be effective in their regions and are more likely to favor urban areas. USDOT has done well to select freight-focused, multimodal small-scale projects in mostly rural areas that can improve business efficiency not only regionally but nationally.”

Improving all levels of freight infrastructure is a win-win for both localities and the entire country. Our nation’s goods movement needs are generated in both rural communities and urban centers, requiring dependable and cost-effective infrastructure from end-to-end. And competitive grants are an essential way to get vital investment to projects that can do the most good.

“We applaud the Department for recognizing that small projects, not just megaprojects, can leverage federal funds and create important freight benefits,” said Tim Lovain, CAGTC Chairman and Executive Vice President of Crossroads Strategies. “A great example of a small project becoming an economic multiplier is this partnership between Port of Moses Lake and the Washington State Department of Transportation. Creating rail access to the Port of Moses Lake will deliver benefits by developing safer and more efficient access to the Port’s industrial park.”

During a USDOT webinar on the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program, attendees were told that funding requests for this small grant FASTLANE round totaled more than $1.8 billion, or 22.5 times the approximately $80 million made available for the program. Like the TIGER program, there is no shortage of demand for this funding approach.

“I commend DOT for proposing funding support for small freight projects, largely located in rural America, to improve multimodal nodes of our national freight transportation network,” said Paul Hubler, Vice Chairman of CAGTC and the Director of Government and Community Relations for the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority. “To complement this approach and achieve transformational improvements, the next round of grant awards should focus on critical mega-projects located in America’s nationally significant freight gateways and trade corridors.”