The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week a number of grants awarded to ongoing highway projects in several states, including for trucks-only lanes in Arizona and Interstate widening in Illinois.
Among the 41 grants issued across 43 states through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program are the building of a new freeway in Nebraska, the widening of I-57 in Illinois and the separation of trucks from other vehicles on Arizona State Route 189 in Nogales near the U.S.-Mexico border.
DOT says the project in Nogales, Ariz., will separate commercial and non-commercial traffic, improving congestion and reducing delays at one of the nation’s busiest ports of entry.
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said in a press release the $25 million grant will help the “frequently congested and backed up 5-lane artery that connects the Mariposa Port of Entry with Interstate 19.” She added that the port of entry accounts for 40 percent of America’s imported produce and “hundreds of southbound trucks filled with exports,” but Arizona State Route 189 can’t handle that amount of traffic. More than 350,000 trucks cross the border at this location annually, McSally noted.
Another notable grant that could impact the trucking industry is the widening of I-57 in Illinois near Carbondale. The five-mile stretch of interstate is among the most dangerous in the state in terms of fatal and serious-injury crashes, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The project will add an additional lane in each direction, install a median barrier, resurface the existing lanes, update pavement markings and deficient guardrails, and install raised reflectors and rumble strips. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, nearly a third of the 39,300 vehicles that travel this stretch of I-57 daily is trucks.
Additionally, in Nebraska, a $25 million TIGER grant will help fund the construction of the Lincoln South Beltway, which will serve as the primary route between U.S. Highway 77 and Nebraska Highway 2. The new highway would be an 11-mile, four-lane east-west freeway south of Lincoln. DOT says the project would allow freight traffic to bypass Lincoln.
A full list of the most recent round of TIGER grants can be found here.
President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, which was released a year ago, cut funding for several DOT programs, including the TIGER grant program. Congress has yet to pass a 2018 budget, so it is still unclear if the program will survive the agency’s budget cuts.