The following executive summary was prepared by a consultant, Harrington-Hughes & Associates. It contains statements from the Workshop participants; however, this does not imply that consensus was reached on any of the issues mentioned. The statements do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Highway Administration.
From shortening the time spent crossing the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico to improving roads in high-traffic trade corridors, projects funded by the National Corridor Planning and Coordinated Borders Infrastructure programs are contributing to economic growth and more efficient travel across the country. The corridor program is designed to provide allocations to States and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) for the planning, design, and construction of corridors of national significance, economic growth, and international or interregional trade. The border program has the goal of improving the movement of people and goods across the U.S. borders. The two initiatives, known as the Corridors and Borders program, were funded jointly under the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
More than 150 applications for grants were received in fiscal year (FY) 1999, the first year of the grant program. Fifty-five projects were funded, amounting to $123 million in total grants awarded to 32 States. The programs had a combined authorized funding of $140 million for FY 2000, with approximately $122 million available for allocation.
To publicize the Corridors and Borders program and highlight the FY 2000 application process, FHWA held a series of workshops in fall 1999 in Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, and Phoenix. The workshops featured case study presentations on Corridors and Borders projects selected for funding in FY 1999 and open mic listening sessions where participants could ask questions or comment on the program. The workshops were also designed to solicit input from participants on evaluation measures for the program, as well as the program's future direction. Participants included Federal, State, and local government employees; MPO staff; and representatives from a number of trade and citizens groups.
While workshop participants had a range of comments on the program, some responses were reoccuring. These include a unanimous dislike of earmarked funds and the opinion that grant money is being spread too thin. Expectations for the program include the hope that it will increase the focus on borders and corridors issues nationally and encourage more multistate projects, with the ultimate goal being "moving trade across borders and dealing with bottlenecks in corridors."