U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced that nearly $124 million in grants would be provided to 32 states for 55 projects under the National Corridor Planning and Development and the Coordinated Border Infrastructure programs.
"Helping to continue the historic success of the North American Free Trade Agreement, these grants will provide safer and more efficient movement of people and goods between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.," said Slater. "In addition to supporting safety, President Clinton's highest transportation priority, this program will assist our effort to create jobs and stimulate economic growth."
Slater called the border and corridor grants critical investments for the continuing success of NAFTA, noting that annual trade with Mexico had more than doubled pre-NAFTA levels to $173.3 billion in 1998 and exceeded $300 billion with Canada.
The National Corridor Planning and Development Program and the Coordinated Border
Infrastructure Program are provided for by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), the landmark surface transportation law that President Clinton signed on June 9, 1998.
Both the corridor and the border programs provide the U.S. Department of Transportation authority to allocate dollars to states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPO). The programs provide up to $140 million to states in fiscal 1999 and up to $140 million each year over the remaining four fiscal years (2000-2003) of TEA-21, for a total of $700 million.
After obligation limitation reductions, $123.6 million was available under the programs in fiscal 1999. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) received more than 150 funding requests for projects totaling more than $2 billion. All applications were found to be at least partly eligible for funding. The federal share for projects funded through these programs is 80 percent.
Under the corridor program, the department established criteria based on TEA-21 for states and MPOs to apply for discretionary funds. Projects could be for any of the 21 high-priority corridors identified in the Intermodal Surface Transportation and Efficiency Act of 1991, the eight added in the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995, the 14 added in TEA-21, and other significant corridors based on factors specified in the TEA-21 statute.
The border program aims to improve border infrastructure and transportation telecommunications to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of people and goods at or across the United States-Canada and the United States-Mexico borders. Criteria under which the department could fund applications included reduction in travel time through a major international facility, potential for improvements in border crossing vehicle safety and cargo security, and the applicability of innovative techniques and technology to other border crossing facilities.
The grants apply to highway, rail and intermodal projects and demonstrate that states and localities are using multimodal solutions to transportation challenges, ensuring that the United States. transportation system can meet the trade and transportation demands of the 21st century safely and efficiently.