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New federal funding too limited to improve U.S. 64, Alligator River bridge 

A new source of federal highway funding, like other sources before it, isn’t likely to advance the long-sought widening of U.S. 64 between Columbia and Manns Harbor or construction of a four-lane bridge over the Alligator River. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently published a notice of funding opportunity for states to apply for $1.5 billion in discretionary grant funding through a federal transportation grants program known as BUILD, Albemarle Rural Planning Organization director Angela M. Welsh announced May 4.  

BUILD grants will be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact, with 30 percent of the funds going to rural areas. 

Projects will be evaluated based on criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership and additional non-federal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments.  

The U.S. 64 project is beyond the funding limits for the first round of BUILD grants, which has a maximum single grant award of $25 million, and no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single state.   

“Please note,” Welsh stated, “from what we understand at this time, the NCDOT can only submit three projects across all modes statewide [highway, bridge, ferry, airport, etc.], and the projects selected will be based on a strategic decision by NCDOT upper management.”    

Counties and municipalities may apply for BUILD grants, but the applicant will be responsible for any funding gap and for administration of the funds and project.  

The deadline to apply for a fiscal 2018 BUILD grant is July 19.