U.S. Department of Transportation Proposes $16.8 Million in Grant Funding for the US-52 Rural Freight Passing Lanes Project for North Dakota

K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

NORTH DAKOTA  –As North Dakota continues to improve its economy and infrastructure, U.S. Department of Transportation  announced its proposal to award the North Dakota Department of Transportation a $16.8 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant to construct passing and turning lanes, which will improve safety and reduce travel times.

According to USDOT, this grant will also help the local economy and create jobs in North Dakota.

“These timely investments in our infrastructure will create jobs and support regional economies, while helping to spur innovation, confront climate change, and address inequities across the country,” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

The INFRA grant will be used to construct passing lanes along approximately 165 miles of two-lane US-52 between Carrington and Kenmare and will connect to an ongoing corridor upgrade  through the US-Canadian border crossing of Portal, ND. The proposed passing lanes would be approximately two miles long and spaced approximately every ten miles in each direction, with 5-foot shoulders to allow for the ND Moves State Bicycling Network planned routes.

Additionally, 14 turn lanes are being incorporated at intersections in the project area. The project supports economic vitality by providing safety improvements and reducing travel times by constructing a series of passing lanes and turn lanes along a 165-mile stretch of US-52. The project will include Dynamic Safety Messaging System and Speed Display boards and unique high-visibility pavement markings as an innovative technique to improve safety along the corridor.

INFRA grants were selected based on several criteria. In addition to prioritizing projects that would improve local economies, create jobs, and meet all statutory requirements, for the first time in USDOT’s history, grants were considered by how they would address climate change, environmental justice, and racial equity.

Further, USDOT prioritized funding to rural areas to address historic underinvestment. Approximately 44% of proposed funding will be awarded to rural projects, which exceeded INFRA’s statutory requirement by 19%. INFRA projects were also rated on the extent that they applied innovative technology and whether they could deliver projects in a cost-effective manner.

Demand for INFRA grants far exceeded available funds. USDOT evaluated 157 eligible applications from 42 states, as well as Guam.  Applicants collectively requested approximately $6.8 billion in grant funds—more than seven times the funding available.

As required under the FAST Act, Congress will have 60 days to review the Department’s proposed project awardees. After the 60-day review period, the Department is free to begin obligating funding.