Cantwell Grant Program for Critical Freight Projects Moves Forward with $800 Million Investment in 2016

Department of Transportation now accepting applications for nation’s first-ever multimodal freight grant program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) critical freight grant program got the needed push to move forward and begin addressing critical freight needs. 

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the first round of funding for the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects (NSFHP) Grant Program authored by Cantwell as part of the long-term transportation bill, or Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The grant program authorizes $800 million in FY 2016 and $4.5 billion through 2020. 

The NSFHP grant program–referred to as Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE)–is the first-ever multimodal freight grant program focused on freight mobility. FASTLANE grants will provide funding for projects of national or regional significance including railway, seaport, and highway projects, such as highway-rail separations, to increase safety and reduce congestion. 

“As the most trade dependent state in the nation, Washington relies on a network of ports, railways and roads to sell products around the globe. Today, for the first time, critical multimodal freight projects in Washington and across the U.S. are eligible for funding  through this new grant program.  This year, $800 million will be available for projects aimed at enhancing America’s ability to compete and win in the global economy,” said Senator Cantwell. “I’m proud to see this grant program move forward, helping American products reach overseas markets more quickly and efficiently while reducing congestion and costly delays.”

“Thank you to Senator Cantwell for her leadership on freight mobility in Washington state and across the country. Her work to improve our freight corridors has helped our economy grow and small businesses create good paying jobs. Because of her tireless advocacy, critical freight projects will now be able to apply FASTLANE grants to help address key bottlenecks and keep freight moving,” said Ashley Probart, Executive Director of the Washington State Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.

The FASTLANE grants aim to address many of the challenges outlined in the DOT’s draft National Freight Strategic Plan, which was announced by Senator Cantwell and DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx in Seattle in October.

Cantwell has been a tireless supporter of freight mobility improvement legislation in the Senate. In a May 2012 letter, Cantwell urged then-Secretary LaHood to launch a comprehensive freight initiative to improve federal freight policy and to focus attention on projects that have the maximum benefit to the nation’s freight network, economy and taxpayers. Cantwell later announced with LaHood the Freight Policy Council, which developed the National Freight Strategic Plan and focused on improving the condition and performance of the national freight network to better ensure the ability of the United States to compete in today’s global economy.

Multimodal freight is critical to Washington state. Forty-four percent of Washington state jobs are dependent on freight.  For every billion dollars of freight investment, it is estimated that 20,000 jobs are created.  The American Society of Civil Engineers has said that a failure to adequately invest in our infrastructure could cost the country more than 875,000 jobs.

Without targeted investment in our multimodal freight infrastructure, the United States could lose out to its Canadian competitors. Canada has dedicated $1.4 billion to upgrading its national freight network, specifically focused on the Pacific trade gateways.

For more information or to apply for FASTLANE grants, please visit https://www.transportation.gov/FASTLANEgrants. FASTLANE Grant Applications for FY 2016 are due on April 14, 2016.