BUILD grants announced for five transit-related projects

Nov. 7, 2019
The grants will fund $78.18 million in transit specific and transit related infrastructure improvements.

Congressional offices began to release information about projects that had secured Fiscal Year 2019 grants through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) program. 

The grants that have been announced so far will go toward pedestrian safety, bus rapid transit (BRT), facilities and smart cities improvements in Hawaii, Louisiana, Illinois and Tennessee. 

As of the morning of Nov. 7, transit specific and transit related projects account for $78.18 of the awarded grants. USDOT had $900 million in funding available for this round of BUILD grants. During the FY18 round of BUILD grants, transit accounted for $195 million in awarded funds, but USDOT also had $1.5 billion available for the previous round of awards.

For this round of BUILD grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million and no more than $90 million can be awarded to a single state. Additionally, 50 percent of BUILD grants in this round will be awarded to rural areas that align with the grant's selection criteria. That criteria includes projects that encompass safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, state of good repair, innovation and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders.

The BUILD grants include:

  • $20 million awarded to the state of Hawaii to help build a new pedestrian bridge over Ala Moana Boulevard. The new bridge will connect Ala Moana Beach Park and Kewalo Harbor to Ward Village, the Ala Moana Center and the future Ward rail station.
  • $17.2 million awarded to the city of Ruston and $15 million awarded to the city of Baton Rouge, La., for bus and smart cities infrastructure. Baton Rouge will use the money to fund the Plank-Nicholson BRT line, Louisiana’s first, which will stretch nine miles across the city to connect northern and southern Baton Rouge to downtown and Louisiana State University. Ruston will fund improvements to the Monroe Street Corridor Project that will serve as a Smart Cities Innovation Testbed, which will embed sensors and provide real-time data for traffic, parking, environmental conditions and create a network needed to research and develop autonomous vehicles.
  • $13.98 million awarded to the city of Carbondale, Ill., for the Southern Illinois Multimodal Station (SIMMS) project, which will fund both the design and construction of a new multi-modal transportation center in the city’s downtown, as well as the demolition of the existing Amtrak station. The project will also include the region’s first bike sharing service.
  • $12 million will help the Memphis Area Transit Authority to create a BRT line along the eight-mile designated Innovation Corridor linking downtown Memphis to the Medical District, along the Overton Square entertainment district, past the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library on Poplar and on to the University of Memphis campus.

This is an unofficial tally and it is expected USDOT will officially release a complete list of grant award recipients shortly.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.