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U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao late last week informed Congress that the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed nearly $79 million in grants for freight-related rail, port and roadway infrastructure projects under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.The notification to Congress, sent Aug. 2, initiates a 60-day period in which Congress could vote to disapprove the proposed projects if it finds a project objectionable, according to a report by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).The proposed awards would be distributed under the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program, which the Trump administration now refers to as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program.The department is accepting applications until 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 for fiscal-year 2017 large projects and FY2018 large and small projects under the INFRA grants program.According to a notice Chao sent to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), the department's proposed grant awards would include: • $9.85 million to the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor: Enhanced Intermodal Facilities with Rail and Truck Marshaling Yards project. The project entails construction of efficiency improvements that also would allow the Ports of Indiana to increase their cargo-handling capacity. Upgrades include construction of a new 2.3-acre bulk berth facility; a truck-barge-truck conveyer system; a new westside rail yard and new rail connection that will connect the port's main terminal with the new rail yard; dockside improvements; and construction of a truck marshaling yard.• $9.9 million to the Northern Columbia Basin Rail Road project. The Port of Moses Lake, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Transportation, would be awarded the grant toward a $30.3 million project to complete construction of the Northern Basin Rail project, which would construct a new 4.5-mile line along the Wheeler Industrial Corridor and reroute existing aging rail infrastructure to the new route. In addition, crews would construct 3 miles of new rail lines to access industrial land adjacent to the Grant County International Airport, and upgrade and modernize 3 miles of existing rail line.• $8.67 million to the Taylor County Florida Competitiveness and Employment by Rail project. The effort calls for rehabilitating the Georgia & Florida Railway, including upgrades to 19 active warning public grade crossing devices; rebuilding 90 public and private grade crossing surfaces; hardening 16 bridges to support increased traffic; installing 70,000 crossties; and resurfacing 80 miles of railway between Foley, Florida, and Adel, Georgia.• $7.89 million to the Maine Railroad Bridge Capacity project, which involves repairing and upgrading 22 rail bridges on the Madawaska subdivision of the state-owned railroad in northeastern Maine.• $7.54 million to the North Central Regional Railroad Authority project, which would rehabilitate a 90-mile stretch of track of the Grenada Railroad between Grenada and Canton, Mississippi. In addition, the project would repair the Coldwater River Bridge.• $7 million to the SORR Rehabilitation and Presidio International Rail Bridge Reconstruction. The project would repair the Presidio-Ojinaga International Rail Bridge and rehabilitate 72 miles of the state-owned South Orient Railroad, from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Paisano Junction near Alpine, Texas. The work includes replacing 15,000 crossties, repairs to 38 bridges and reconstruction of 37 grade crossings.• $5.7 million to the Evans Avenue Railroad Grade Separation Improvement project. Evans Avenue carries 4,000 vehicles per day and has two grade crossings with CSX and the Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority, which is refurbishing the rail line to accommodate 10 passenger-rail transits daily in the corridor. CSX has 32 train crossings per day. The project would realign a short section of Evans Avenue and construction two bridges over existing CSX and RTA rail lines.
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