DOT awards $645 million in grants to make rural transportation safer

December 13, 2023

Projects that will make dangerous rural roads and rails safer places to travel received $645 million in grant funding, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.

The grants were awarded through the federal Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (Rural), which invests in roads, bridges and other transportation systems to improve safety and movement of people and freight and improve quality of life for rural residents.

Rural roads face a disproportionally high rate of fatalities, and a significant proportion of rural roads and bridges are in poor condition, the Department of Transportation said.

“The grants we’re announcing today will make transportation in rural communities better, safer, and more reliable,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg noted.

This is the second year for the Rural program, which will invest $2 billion in projects through 2026. The 18 projects receiving grants were selected from a pool of 147 applicants.

Projects receiving grants include:

  • $59.8 million to widen and rehabilitate about 21 miles of the U.S. 64 Corridor in San Juan County, New Mexico, which is located almost entirely in the traditional lands of the Navajo Nation. The project includes replacement of four bridges, installation of fiber optic and cable, and 50 corrugated metal culverts along the corridor.
  • $27.7 million to reconstruct two sections of U.S. 1 near Frenchville, Maine, in Aroostook County to improve access to services, including the regional hospital and university in Fort Kent. The project includes optimizing stormwater runoff infrastructure to allow the road to better withstand frequent heavy rain events and freeze-thaw cycles.
  • $12 million to build three grade-separated rail crossings in Millen, Georgia, to improve residential and freight mobility in the area by minimizing delays and helping residents better access schools, employment centers and social services while reducing opportunities for unsafe trespassing. The Department of Transportation said the project would also improve intermodal freight mobility because trucks cannot use the existing overpass.

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Photo by Chris Greninger on Unsplash

Miles Smith

Miles Smith has more than two decades of communications experience in the public and private sectors, including several years of covering local governments for various daily and weekly print publications. His scope of work includes handling public relations for large private-sector corporations and managing public-facing communications for local governments.

Smith has recently joined the team as a content writer for SPI’s news publications, which include Texas Government Insider, Government Contracting Pipeline and its newest digital product, Government Market News, which launched in September 2023. He graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s in journalism.

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