The Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) announced today that the department has submitted several grant applications through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program. MaineDOT has submitted five applications and is also partnering with New Hampshire DOT (NH DOT) on a sixth application for the Bi-State Memorial Bridge Project in Kittery-Portsmouth.
In May, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the availability of $1.5 billion nationwide in TIGER Discretionary Grants for capital investment in surface transportation projects. The grants are to be awarded on a competitive basis “to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area and can create jobs and benefit economically distressed areas.”
As of Tuesday’s (September 15) deadline, MaineDOT submitted five separate applications for a total of $166.2 million. MaineDOT is also a co-applicant with NH DOT on the $70 million Memorial Bridge component of New Hampshire’s TIGER grant application.
“The TIGER Grant applications we’re submitting will compete nationally for a limited pool of funding,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Cole. “We feel that these are worthy projects that will provide substantial economic and transportation benefits to our state,” he continued.
MaineDOT’s project submissions include a highway project in Caribou; three rail projects—the Eastport Gateway Rail Project, Northern Tier Rail Restoration Project, and Mountain Division Rail Project; and a multi-faceted ports application that includes port improvements in Portland, Searsport, and Eastport. The joint Maine and New Hampshire application for the Bi-State Memorial Bridge Project involves improvements to the Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River between Kittery and Portsmouth. Project specifics include:
- Caribou Connector Project (Aroostook North/South Highway) - $25 Million: The project involves construction of a 4.3-mile new highway connection between U.S. Route 1, near its intersection with High Street and Route 161 in Caribou. The proposed project will build a two-lane, controlled-access highway on a four-lane divided highway footprint.
- Eastport Gateway Rail Project - $57.7 Million: The project will rehabilitate the rail line from Calais to Perry to Federal Railroad Administration Class II standards (25-mph operations), and will construct a truck-to-rail transload and storage facility in Perry.
- Northern Tier Rail Restoration Project - $23 Million: This project will purchase and improve 240 miles of rail corridor in Penobscot and Aroostook Counties—rail that is currently operated by the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad.
- Mountain Division Rail Project - $28.5 Million: The Mountain Division is a 51-mile rail corridor connecting the national rail system in Portland to Maine’s Western Mountains. The project’s first stage would be a $22 million track rehabilitation, which would support freight rail operations and potential excursion passenger rail to Fryeburg.
- Revitalize Maine’s Ports - $32 Million (submitted as a package of projects): Port of Eastport - $2 Million: Funds would be used in conjunction with $4.5 million in bond funds to construct a warehouse and storage pad. Port of Portland - $23 Million: This portion of the project would involve building a lay-down area, lighting upgrades, and widening the pier access area. The project would also include construction of a Contained Aquatic Disposal (CAD) cell, to be built during the upcoming Portland Harbor dredge project. The project would excavate a cell on the edge of the federal channel, where dredge spoils could be deposited and then capped with clean fill. The project would also fund completion of the Ocean Gateway Megaberth, a new berth for large cruise ships at the recently completed Ocean Gateway terminal. Port of Searsport/Mack Point - $7 Million - Funding would also be invested at Mack Point in Searsport for purchase of a port crane for the dry cargo pier.
- Bi-State Memorial Bridge Project - $70 Million: The project involves improvements to the Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqua River between Kittery and Portsmouth. The joint application requests funds for rehabilitation of this structure, which is in danger of being closed due to its poor condition and potential impacts on the significant amount of commercial shipping that passes beneath it.
USDOT’s primary selection criteria for the TIGER grants will focus on long-term outcomes, jobs creation, and economic stimulus, and specifically include maintaining good repair, economic competitiveness, livability, sustainability, safety, creation and preservation of jobs, rapid increase in economic activity, and benefit to economically distressed areas.
Grant awards by the USDOT are expected no later than January 2010.
The TIGER Discretionary Grant applications and supporting information can be viewed at the MaineDOT Web site at www.mainedot.gov.
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