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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee yesterday released the first list of grants that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will distribute under a new highway and freight projects program.The Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects program — referred to as the FASTLANE program — was created as part of the federal FAST Act transportation legislation that Congress approved late last year.The USDOT notified the committees on Monday of 18 projects selected to receive a total of $759 million in fiscal-year 2016.Demand for the FASTLANE grants exceeded expectations, said U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in a press release. The program received 212 applications for projects worth a total of $10 billion — more than 10 times the available amount, the lawmakers said."The response illustrates how critical freight and highway investments are to improving the movement of goods and reducing congestion," they said.USDOT intends to award the projects after 60 days. Projects that include a rail element and their proposed grant amounts are: • Port of Savannah international multimodal connector, $44 million. The Georgia Ports Authority will receive the funds for a project to reconfigure the Savannah port's on-dock intermodal container transfer facilities to bring rail switching activity inside the port.• Paul W. Conley Terminal intermodal improvements and modernization in the Port of Boston, $42 million. The Massachusetts Port Authority will use the funds to deepen and strengthen repairs to the port's Berth 11; construct Berth 12 fender improvements and backland pavement; implement refrigerated container storage improvements; and build new gate facilities.• South Lander Street grade separation and railroad safety project, $45 million. The city of Seattle will use the dollars on a grade separation project on South Lander Street over the north/south BNSF Railway Co. line.• Cedar Rapids Logistics Park, $25.65 million. The Iowa Department of Transportation will use the funds to build full service intermodal facilities in Cedar Rapids. The project will feature a container intermodal terminal; rail-to-truck transload facility for bulk commodities; and a cross-dock facility for consolidating and redistributing truck loads.• Cross Harbor freight program, $10,672,590. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will use the funds for intermodal rail improvements. The project includes two components: At the 65th Street Yard, extending the existing transloading dock and making other improvements; and at Port Jersey Division Second Track, double-tracking a portion of the Port Jersey Division of New York New Jersey Rail LLC. • Strander Boulevard Extension and grade separation, phase III, $5 million. The city of Tukwila, Wash., will be awarded the funds to construct a grade separated crossing under a freight-rail line and a 1,250-linear-foot arterial from SR 181 to SW 27th Street, turn lanes, and related facilities in the Green River Valley.Also, the USDOT plans to award $165 million for the Atlantic Gateway project in Virginia to improve the freight-traffic corridor across the Eastern Seaboard, and $11 million for the Coos Bay Rail Line tunnel rehabilitation project at the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay in Oregon. Those amounts were announced earlier this week by government officials in those states.
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