Federal transportation grants aid projects in Western Pa., Northeastern Ohio
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Trump administration Tuesday announced it is distributing more than a billion dollars in federal grant funding for transportation projects nationwide. Some of that money is coming Western Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio.
In all, $1.5 billion in federal funding called “BUILD” (Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Grants)is now making its way to 91 transportation and infrastructure projects across 49 states and the District of Columbia.
“The BUILD program supports infrastructure improvements that advance the goals of safety, improve the quality of life, environmental protection,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao during a news conference at the Dept. of Transportation headquarters in Washington.
It’s a record amount of funding following a record 851 applications.
Locally, $20 million will be distributed to a project in Butler Co., Pa. called the Gateway 228 Capacity and Safety Improvement Projects. The $43.7 million project will realign and widen to four lanes the approximately 1.5-mile Balls Bend and the approximately 0.75-mile Haines School- Commonwealth sections of Route 228, according to the D.O.T. The project is expected to reduce the number and severity of crashes on Rt. 228.
In a statement, Congressman Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), who resides in Butler, is praising the funding in a statement calling the Gateway project “Butler County’s most critical transportation initiative.”
A $9.6 million BUILD grant was also provided for the $14 million Geauga County Safety Improvement Project in Northeastern Ohio. The project will construct safety improvements to address conflicts between motorized vehicles and non-motorized buggies, and provide other safety features along local roadways, the D.O.T. said in a statement.
“These grants are uniquely flexible and adaptable and many of these projects would be difficult otherwise to fund,” said Rep. David Price (D-N.C.), ranking member of the House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Committee.
All states applied, according to the D.O.T., but only Hawaii didn’t receive a grant this year. While no formal explanation was given, Chao said the selection process was rigorous and record-setting.
“A number of criteria were factored into the selection process including project readiness, cost and benefits, geographic diversity,” Chao said.
The majority of the projects are geared toward rural infrastructure, but don’t just focus on things like roads and bridges. Others center on rail, rural broadband internet access, and more.
“This has been a wonderful down payment, really the second installment in that program,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.“But we can use much more.”
A down payment both the Trump administration and Congressional leaders are vowing to build upon in 2019.