$1 Billion in BUILD Grants Announced by USDOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation on September 16 announced the selectees for $1 billion in surface transportation grants from the BUILD program (formerly known as TIGER).

“This Administration is making significant investments in infrastructure, and this $1 billion in BUILD grants will repair, rebuild, and revitalize transportation systems across America,” said Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao.

Fact sheets describing each grant can be found here.

From the fiscal year 2020 appropriation of $1.000 billion, the announcement listed 56 BUILD capital grants totaling $965.578 million, and another 12 grants for project planning activities totaling $20.422 billion. That makes $986.000 million, and the other $14 million was dedicated to program oversight (the oversight ceiling was a $15 million takedown, so DOT is being thrifty). There were also two projects announced this week using fiscal 2019 appropriations, totaling $17.429 million, because one of the projects announced last year with the FY 2019 money got withdrawn. (Still waiting to find out which one.) Total grants announced this week: $1.003 billion.

Rural-urban split. After several years of the Trump Administration giving preference to projects in rural areas under this program (which, the Administration said, was to compensate for an urban bias under the Obama Administration), Congress last year started directing a more or less 5o-50 split, with no more than half of the total appropriation going towards either type of project. Adding up the capital grants and the planning grants, it seems that DOT had a precisely even split this year:

Rural $493,000,000 50.0%
Urban $493,000,000 50.0%

Modal split. Remembering that the Trump Administration stopped listing bike-ped as a mode, and that many of the projects they characterize as “road” projects are actually “complete streets” projects that contain bike-ped elements, and also remembering that one of the projects classified as “transit” is a project that has commuter rail and freight rail elements, here is the modal breakdown of the capital grants (no planning) using fiscal 2020 appropriations:

Aviation $21,000,000 2.1%
Maritime $77,268,125 7.9%
Rail $20,000,000 2.0%
Road $743,468,529 75.9%
Transit $117,986,627 12.0%

Yes, BUILD awards are supposed to be surface transportation – that lone aviation grant is for an intermodal freight terminal at the Anchorage, Alaska airport (a climate-controlled cold storage terminal, no less).

State totals. The FY 2020 Act declared that no state could get more than 10 percent of the total appropriation, or $100 million, and no state came close. Texas got $50 million and Florida $49 million.

One would normally expect the high-population megastates to get the most grant money, and while this is generally true (again) this year, a notable anti-New York and anti-New Jersey trend continues (the Empire and Garden States got nothing in the FY 2019 round of BUILD, either).

Top 10 Capital Grant Award Totals 10  Most Populous States (in order)
Texas $50,000,000 California $36,000,000
Florida $49,000,000 Texas $50,000,000
Pennsylvania $46,000,000 New York $0
Iowa $45,525,359 Illinois $30,420,000
Maine $45,000,000 Pennsylvania $46,000,000
Ohio $38,668,160 Ohio $38,668,160
Arizona $38,518,079 Georgia $22,000,000
Kentucky $38,194,000 North Carolina $30,223,152
Minnesota $37,000,000 Michigan $8,333,600
California $36,000,000 New Jersey $0

The best way to detect potential favoritism in grant award selection is to look at things on a per capita basis. The FY 2020 capital grants totaled $965.6 million, and if you divide the 2019 Census estimate of 328.2 million people living in the 50 states and D.C., that averages $2.94 in FY 2020 BUILD capital grants per person, nationwide. That’s about where Massachusetts ($3.05 per capita) and North Carolina ($2.88 per capita) finished this year.

Here are the top ten states in terms of fiscal 2020 BUILD grants per capita:

1 Wyoming $34.56
2 Maine $33.48
3 North Dakota $28.87
4 Alaska $28.71
5 South Dakota $24.87
6 Rhode Island $20.13
7 Iowa $14.43
8 West Virginia $11.16
9 Montana $10.91
10 Idaho $10.71

As always, it’s good to be a Senator whose first name is “chairman.” (Or “ranking minority member” in the case of Jack Reed (D-RI).)

Kentucky was 11th on the per capita list ($8.55), proving once again that, while the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) does pretty well under this program, the Bluegrass State does nowhere nearly as well as they would if he quit being Majority Leader and used his seniority on the Appropriations Committee to bump Susan Collins (R-ME) out of the chairmanship of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the BUILD program.

Federal share. The statute says that no BUILD grant can total more than 80 percent of a projects’s total capital cost, but this threshold is waived for projects in rural areas. Two projects in the FY 2020 announcements had federal shares higher than 90 percent, and both are on Indian land – the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Bayfield, Wisconsin) project has a federal share of 97.9 percent, and the Nez Perce Tribe’s project in Lapwai, Idaho has a federal share of 95.0 percent. The only project with a federal share over 80 percent this year also has an Indian-sounding name (Tonto Creek Bridge Project, Tonto Basin, Arizona).

Only five project had the 80 percent maximum federal share this time. On the other end of the spectrum, the $21 million BUILD grant for the I-495/I-90 interchange upgrade in Boston only represents 5.7 percent of the project cost, and the $10 million BUILD grant for the U.S. 67 improvements in Arkansas only represents 4.1 percent of the project cost.

The fiscal 2020 capital grant awards are below.

State Location Project R/U Mode Grant Award Project Cost BUILD Share
Alabama Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa Landing Area Project Rural Road $15,000,000 $20,000,000 75.0%
Alaska Anchorage Anchorage Int’l Airport Intermodal Cargo and Cold Storage Facility Urban Aviation $21,000,000 $87,862,460 23.9%
Arizona Gila County Tonto Creek Bridge Project Rural Road $21,095,564 $24,479,014 86.2%
Arizona Phoenix 35th Avenue Safety Corridor Project Urban Road $17,422,515 $24,876,192 70.0%
Arkansas Monticello SH 83 Spur/U.S. 278 Connector Rural Road $4,000,000 $16,719,000 23.9%
Arkansas Pulaski/Lonoke Cos. U.S. 67 Corridor Improvements Urban Road $10,000,000 $242,161,183 4.1%
California Tulare SR 99 / Commercial Ave. Intercharnge Project Urban Road $16,000,000 $52,800,000 30.3%
California Stockton Stockton Diamond Grade Separation Urban Rail $20,000,000 $237,132,800 8.4%
Colorado W. Glenwood Springs RFTAA Regional Transit Center Rural Transit $13,009,000 $18,584,000 70.0%
Colorado Castle Rock Crystal Valley Parkway Interchange Rural Road $5,400,000 $12,000,000 45.0%
Florida Tampa Tampa Multimodal Network and Safety Improvements Urban Road $24,000,000 $30,000,000 80.0%
Florida Tampa I-75/Big Bend Road Mobility and Access Project Urban Road $25,000,000 $91,885,332 27.2%
Georgia Twiggs County SR 96 Improvement Project (Link Between I-16 and I-75) Rural Road $22,000,000 $49,019,223 44.9%
Idaho Lapwai Aht’Wy Interchange Project Rural Road $19,134,710 $20,141,800 95.0%
Illinois Joliet I-55 at IL 59 Access Project Rural Road $20,000,000 $125,312,285 16.0%
Illinois-Missouri St. Louis St. Louis Bi-State Regional Ports Improvement Project Urban Maritime $20,840,000 $26,050,000 80.0%
Indiana Avon U.S. 36 Safety and Capacity Project – Connecting Avon Urban Road $5,000,000 $11,400,000 43.9%
Indiana Indianapolis I-70 Rehabilitation and Modernization Rural Road $22,500,000 $82,450,000 27.3%
Iowa Polk County Broadway Avenue Multimodal Improvements Urban Road $25,000,000 $39,891,000 62.7%
Iowa Coralville Coralville Interchange Improvements Rural Road $20,525,359 $41,050,718 50.0%
Kansas Wichita North Junction Gold Project Urban Road $21,000,000 $116,550,000 18.0%
Kentucky Russellville U.S. 79 Bridge Replacement Rural Road $13,504,000 $16,880,000 80.0%
Kentucky Kenton Countuy KY 536 Improvement Program – Priority Section 1 Urban Road $9,640,000 $12,050,000 80.0%
Kentucky Corbin U.S. 25W Widening and Access Improvements Rural Road $15,050,000 $25,550,000 58.9%
Louisiana Lafayette University Avenue Corridor Urban Road $10,000,000 $16,387,682 61.0%
Maine Augusta Bridge Replacements and Rehabilitation Rural Road $20,000,000 $29,520,000 67.8%
Maine Kennebec County Ticonic Bridge Replacement Project Rural Road $25,000,000 $40,500,000 61.7%
Maryland Baltimore Dundalk Marine Terminal Resiliency & Flood Mitigation Urban Maritime $10,000,000 $36,700,000 27.2%
Massachusetts Boston I-495/I-90 Interchange Improvements Urban Road $21,000,000 $371,300,000 5.7%
Minnesota New Ulm U.S. 14 New Ulm to Nicollet Mobility and Safety Improvement Rural Road $22,000,000 $92,740,000 23.7%
Minnesota Ramsey County U.S. 10 Rum River Bridge Replacement, Intersection Improvements Urban Road $15,000,000 $89,721,000 16.7%
Mississippi Hattiesburg Downtown Railroad Grade Separation Rural Road $13,223,900 $26,621,200 49.7%
Missouri Kansas City Kansas City Streetcar Riverfront Extension Urban Transit $14,199,453 $20,169,677 70.4%
Missouri St. Louis Jefferson Ave. and 20th St. Revitalization Corridors Urban Road $7,950,000 $38,994,000 20.4%
Montana Billings Northwest Billings Connector and Marathon Trail Rural Road $11,656,765 $18,741,765 62.2%
Nebraska Blair Blair South Bypass Rural Road $7,560,000 $14,444,040 52.3%
Nevada Washoe County Pyramid Highway Improvements Urban Road $23,000,000 $54,100,000 42.5%
North Carolina Pembroke Pembroke Complete Streets Improvements Rural Road $5,262,618 $6,690,517 78.7%
North Carolina Lexington Lexington Train Station Urban Transit $24,960,534 $40,910,534 61.0%
North Dakota Statewide Rural Road Resiliency Improvements Rural Road $22,000,000 $50,554,544 43.5%
Ohio Toledo Glass City Riverwalk Urban Road $23,668,160 $29,585,200 80.0%
Ohio Cleveland GCRTA Rail Car Replacement – Phase 1 Urban Transit $15,000,000 $125,000,000 12.0%
Oklahoma Canadian/Caddo Cos. Reconstruction of U.S. 281 Bridgeport Bridge Rural Road $22,000,000 $34,895,000 63.0%
Pennsylvania Butler County Gateway 228 Capacity & Safety Improvements Urban Road $25,000,000 $58,323,300 42.9%
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Bayfront Parkway Mobility & Freight Improvement Rural Road $21,000,000 $63,871,989 32.9%
Rhode Island Cranston Opening the Cranston Canyon (Rt. 37 and I-295) Urban Road $21,329,338 $85,000,000 25.1%
South Carolina Ridgeville Ridgeville Industrial Campus Supporting Infrastructure Rural Maritime $21,678,125 $50,500,000 42.9%
South Dakota Clay/Turner/Yankton Cos. SD 246 Reconstruction from U.S. 81 to I-29 Rural Road $22,000,000 $54,975,402 40.0%
Tennessee Lake County Port of Cates Landing Rail Extension Project Rural Maritime $7,000,000 $12,000,000 58.3%
Texas Midland I-20 Energy Sector Safety Project Rural Road $25,000,000 $38,885,000 64.3%
Texas Ft. Worth – Dallas North Texas Commuter & Freight Rail Capacity Improvements Urban Transit $25,000,000 $55,000,000 45.5%
Virginia Norfolk St. Paul’s Complete Streets Urban Road $14,400,000 $20,600,000 69.9%
Washington Everett Port of Everett Mills to Maritime Cargo Project Urban Maritime $17,750,000 $35,950,000 49.4%
West Virginia Marion/Monongalia Cos. I-79 Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Rural Road $20,000,000 $70,000,000 28.6%
Wisconsin Bayfield Red Cliff Band Chippewa Transportation Renewal Rural Transit $5,817,640 $5,941,727 97.9%
Wyoming Teton County Teton Mobility Corridor and Improvement Project Rural Transit $20,000,000 $28,397,661 70.4%


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