Alberton Bridge structures on westbound I-90 in Montana

DOT spending nearly $5 billion to rebuild American infrastructure

January 25, 2024

The federal government is making $4.9 billion available to 37 large-scale infrastructure projects across the United States through a pair of discretionary grant programs.

Eleven of the projects are being funded through the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) grant program, which focuses on projects that are uniquely large, complex and difficult to fund under traditional grant programs.

The projects funded through the Mega program will generate national and regional economic, mobility and safety benefits, the DOT said. The Mega program will provide $5 billion in funding through 2026.

The remaining 28 projects are being funded through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant program, a pre-existing program that saw its funding increased 50% by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The projects — half of which are in rural communities — are intended to improve movement of freight and people, DOT said.

Two projects received awards from both programs, following through on the DOT’s commitment to invest in non-traditional, multimodal projects that have been neglected because of complications around how to fund them. 

The DOT chose this year’s awardees from a pool of 117 applications requesting $24.7 billion in Mega funding and 190 applications requesting $24.8 billion from the INFRA program.

Mega projects include: 

  • $1 billion to the Blatnik Bridge Replacement Project in Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. This project will replace the Blatnik Bridge, a major connection between the cities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, that without this project is at risk of closing within the next 10 years due to decaying infrastructure. The updates will help prevent fatalities and serious injuries that are 7 to 10 times higher than the state averages and improve employment access for approximately 6,000 daily commuters. The new bridge will also alleviate load restrictions and ease lengthy detours for regional freight.
  • $600 million to the Interstate Bridge Replacement Program between Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. The project will update Interstate 5 — a critically important north-south route — with a seismically resilient replacement of the I-5 bridge over the Columbia River. This update will make the bridge more resilient by correcting structural weaknesses and mitigating seismic risks and congestion issues. The bridge will be designed with bus lanes, pedestrian walkways, bike lanes and a light-rail system to promote sustainable transportation.
  • $371 million to the Sagamore Bridge Project. The project will restore and modernize the nearly 90-year-old Sagamore Bridge in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is currently considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. The project includes the design and construction of the bridge and approaches, improvements to local roadway connections and major utility relocation. Replacing the bridge will ensure the infrastructure meets modern structural design criteria, including consideration of climate change, seismic effects and safety benefits.

The two projects that received funding from both the Mega and INFRA program are:

  • $300 million to the Port of New Orleans for a new international container terminal in Louisiana. The new terminal will be an alternative to terminals located farther inland on the Mississippi River, which cannot accommodate larger vessels. It will be fully outfitted with a 1,700-foot wharf, an automated stacking crane yard, utilities, operations buildings, gates and an intermodal rail yard. The project is receiving approximately $74 million in Mega funds and $226 million in INFRA funds.
  • $66.4 million for the Mineral County I-90 Improvement Project in Montana. The project will rehabilitate aging infrastructure on I-90 between the Idaho-Montana state border and the town of Alberton, improving pavement conditions to withstand harsh weather and replacing the Alberton Bridge structures on westbound I-90. The project is receiving approximately $32 million in Mega funds and $34 million in INFRA funds.

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Photo courtesy of the Montana Department of Transportation

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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