166 infrastructure projects have received billions of dollars in federal funding

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Berlin, a small town in rural northern New Hampshire, has a problem.

Its seven feet of snow clogs streets and sidewalks every winter, making them dangerous for tourists and residents trying to get downtown. Pedestrians fall. Car accident. The expensive process of plowing, dumping, salting and sanding leaves a mess.

“After all of this effort, the streets and sidewalks are rarely free of snow and ice,” the city told Department of Transportation officials in a grant application. And once spring arrives, “on windy days, remnants of dust fill the air downtown.”

On Thursday, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that Berlin’s idea to solve these problems – a snowmelt system that will pump excess heat from a nearby biomass power plant through water pipes condensed under downtown roads and sidewalks – is one of 166 projects to receive funding under a popular but oversubscribed program that receives an injection of $7.5 billion over five years under last year’s infrastructure law.

“Learning more about these projects and providing the funding to help make more of them a reality is one of the best parts of serving in this role,” Buttigieg said ahead of the announcement, which covered $2.2 billion of projects in every state – half rural and half urban – under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program.

Buttigieg and the Biden administration’s senior infrastructure adviser, Mitch Landrieu, are traveling to key states this week to announce the grants and progress they say they represent.

Buttigieg was expected to join local and congressional officials Thursday in Tucson to announce a $25 million grant to unclog freight and pedestrian bottlenecks in the city’s 22nd Street neighborhood. The funding will support a new bridge over a railway, a separate span for cyclists and pedestrians, and a widened carriageway, which transport officials say will improve connections to an underserved area.

Landrieu will be in Atlanta to announce a $25 million grant to repair the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s Five Points station.

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The aim, according to project documents, is to rebuild a confusing station by eliminating “long walks to bus transfers in areas that are not adequately monitored” and to improve safety by helping people avoid cross the streets. The train station, where more than half of the people living within half a mile are poor, connects downtown to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, a major source of employment.

“We’re not leaving anyone behind,” Landrieu said.

Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.), also touted the grants.

A long-awaited project to connect the city of Huntsville, Alabama to isolated neighborhoods by highways and waterways has been awarded $20 million.

According to project documents, the planned construction includes a cable-suspended pedestrian bridge, three pedestrian bridges over Pinhook Creek and Huntsville Spring Branch, and a new railroad bridge. Among the goals, U.S. transportation officials said, include mitigating flooding, reducing emissions and improving access to inner-city neighborhoods.

“I am especially pleased that Huntsville has received the funds to build several pedestrian bridges that will soon provide better access to vital downtown businesses and services,” Shelby said in a statement.

A separate $5 million grant for Cordova, Alabama will repair 30 miles of roads, including those damaged by tornadoes in 2011.

Christopher Coes, U.S. assistant secretary for transportation policy, said 52% of the funding announced Thursday was for road improvements, adding that a significant number of those items included elements of Complete Streets, an effort spearheaded by the department to make the roads safer and more welcoming. for pedestrians. About 7% of the funding supported maritime projects, Coes said, while 4% went to rail.

Buttigieg said categorization can be tricky, given road projects can be bundled with other improvements, but about 17% of projects that received funding included bicycle and pedestrian elements.

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The Berlin project will use waste heat from a wood-fired power plant to dispense with snow and attempt to transform a community hard hit by the decline of the paper industry. The Burgess BioPower mill replaced part of an old pulp mill in town.

“This is a game-changer for Berlin,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) said in a statement.

Buttigieg, who had traveled to Berlin a few years ago to open a campaign office as he ran for president, said the $19.5 million earmarked for the project will have a lasting effect, even if the dollar amount may not seem significant by the standards of some major US cities.

“What they’re going to be able to do there, with this funding, is really transforming the future of their downtown,” he said.

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