Cantwell Grant Program Set to fund $850 Million for Freight Transportation Projects in 2017

Department of Transportation accepting applications for critical multimodal freight grant program

Seattle, WA – The nation’s first-ever multimodal freight grant program, created U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), is set to award $850,000,000 to critical freight projects around the country. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the second 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 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. 

The program has already funded $45 million to help complete a grade crossing over the South Lander Street rail corridor in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood as well as $5 million to address the bottleneck of train, truck, and car traffic on Strander Boulevard in Tukwila. 

"I am glad to see the Department of Transportation requesting more applications for this newly created freight grant program. I hope many more projects will submit applications because improving freight corridors helps continue to make our country economically competitive," said Senator Cantwell.

“Thanks to Senator Cantwell for her continued leadership promoting job-creating investments in our ports and freight network. The FASTLANE grant program is tremendously important program for reducing delays in freight movement. We are looking forward to competing for these funds to help finish critical projects, grow our economy, and continue the Pacific Northwest’s leadership in moving our products around the globe,” said Eric Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington Public Ports Association.

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 2017 are due on December 15, 2016.