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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

USDOT retools FASTLANE to leverage non-fed funding

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has restructured the FASTLANE grant program to focus on freight-related infrastructure projects that use funds from the private sector or other non-federal sources.

The Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program was authorized under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to provide competitive grants or credit assistance to nationally and regionally significant freight and highway projects.

Under the USDOT's retooling of the program, it's now known as the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program, which will make $1.5 billion available to projects that meet the Trump administration's principles for rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure.

The USDOT retooled the grant criteria to "evaluate projects to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals and to leverage additional non-federal funding," according to a USDOT press release.

"The new program will increase the impact of projects by leveraging capital and allowing innovation in the project delivery and permitting processes, including public-private partnerships," the release stated.

Additionally, INFRA will promote safety solutions and target performance and accountability in project delivery and operations.

"By ensuring the right incentives, projects selected under this program will be better able to make significant, long-term improvements to America's transportation infrastructure," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

USDOT will award INFRA grants to large and small projects. For a large project, the INFRA grant must be at least $25 million. For a small project, the grant must be at least $5 million. For each fiscal year of INFRA funds, 10 percent of available funds are reserved for small projects.

Also, the program will ensure that at least 25 percent of funding will go toward rural projects.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/30/2017