Durbin, Duckworth Press Trump To Fully Fund Fastlane Grants

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today called on President Trump to fully fund the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) fiscal year 2017 FASTLANE grants after the Administration announced that DOT will hold funding for large project awardees and call for new and separate applications with “updated” criteria.  This latest delay of much needed transportation grant funding by the Trump Administration will directly impact transportation infrastructure projects across Illinois, including CREATE’s 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project in Chicago and Merchants Railroad Bridge Project in the St. Louis region.

“Investing in our transportation infrastructure creates jobs, revitalizes neighborhoods, and grows small businesses across Illinois.  But today’s announcement by the Trump Administration only works to delay critical transportation funding,” said Durbin.  “President Trump promised a trillion dollar infrastructure package, but instead his budget slashed transportation investments and his Administration continues to delay funding.  I urge the president to immediately fund and advance the hundreds of millions of dollars in FASTLANE grants around the country.”

“I am deeply disappointed in the Trump Administration’s decision to delay much-needed investments in our nation’s infrastructure by resoliciting FASTLANE applications,” said Duckworth. “In Illinois, projects like the CREATE Program in Chicago and Merchants Bridge in Metro East would create hundreds of local jobs while improving our regional and national transportation systems.  Unfortunately, this decision could unnecessarily delay these job-creating projects—and it certainly breaks yet another of the President’s campaign promises.”

In May, Durbin and Duckworth, along with 24 of their Democratic colleagues, called for the Trump Administration to immediately approve federal grant agreements for the public transportation projects that have been fully vetted by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA), have funding available, and are ready for construction to begin this fiscal year.  They also reiterated their support for continued funding for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, which is the primary federal grant program for funding major public transit capital investments.  President Trump has called for the elimination of all future funding for the transit grant program.  Duckworth also hosted a roundtable earlier this year with local transportation officials where she discussed the importance of FASTLANE grants to Chicago and Illinois jobs. 

The Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) program was created in 2015 by the FAST Act and was established to provide financial assistance—competitive grants, known as FASTLANE grants—to nationally and regionally significant freight and highway projects that align with the program goals to:

  • improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people;
  • generate national or regional economic benefits and an increase in global economic competitiveness of the U.S;
  • reduce highway congestion and bottlenecks;
  • improve connectivity between modes of freight transportation;
  • enhance the resiliency of critical highway infrastructure and help protect the environment;
  • improve roadways vital to national energy security; and
  • address the impact of population growth on the movement of people and freight.