In the last transportation infrastructure post, we looked at several states that had recently made announcements for funding or plans for acquiring funding. This post explores a handful of additional states, including new projects and some ongoing efforts to better connect residents both within their states and throughout their regions. This time, we looked at Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. Over time, we will explore the remaining states.
The projects address highway and railway infrastructure primarily. All are intended to address safety and respond to population growth in the states where they are located; many are intended to update aging and outdated systems.
Several are included in the 70 projects across 35 states and D.C. that will receive a portion of the federal government’s recent $1.4 billion rail infrastructure allocation from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
Alabama’s diverse landscapes and growing communities are driving significant investments in transportation infrastructure projects. The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has committed over $4 billion to tackle a wide range of projects, with a focus on rail, bridge and street improvements, including state and federal DOT initiatives. These projects are instrumental for meeting the evolving transportation needs of the state, promoting economic growth and enhancing safety.
One of the standout initiatives in Alabama is the expansion and reconstruction of the I-10 Bayway. The design-build project is pivotal for accommodating the increasing flow of goods and travelers, supporting the state’s role in the nation’s supply chain. The I-10 Mobile River Bridge and Bayway Widening project will increase the capacity of I-10 with a new bridge featuring six lanes and 215 feet of Air Draft Clearance (ADC) over the Mobile River as well as adding lanes to the existing bridges over Mobile Bay, increasing those from four to eight lanes.
Another design-build project is the West Alabama Highway Corridor project, started in 2021 as part of the Rebuild Alabama program. In September, the project was halted due to cost disputes between state lawmakers and ALDOT, but Gov. Kay Ivey has since allocated $75 million for 13 transportation projects across the state, putting a stop to the debate. The four-lane highway would connect Thomasville in Clarke County to Tuscaloosa in the north, meeting a need for interstate access along what is known as the Black Belt –– presumably named for the rich soil in the area but more often associated with the state’s rural Black and African American population.
The Northern Beltline project upgrades a major highway to enhance connectivity in the Birmingham metropolitan area. ALDOT announced in June that it plans to put another $460 million toward the $5 billion project over the next four years, eventually running from I-59 in northeast Jefferson County to the I-459 interchange with I-59/20 near Bessemer. The 52.5-mile project includes the construction of a new road that will help alleviate traffic congestion, provide efficient transportation routes and foster economic development for the city of Birmingham, which has four interstates connecting it to other metropolitan areas in the southeast.
Alabama is also actively addressing the state of its aging bridges and highways with a series of strategic initiatives. A program created by the Rebuild Alabama Act, the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program-II (ATRIP-II) is at the forefront of these efforts, focusing on the rehabilitation and replacement of structurally deficient bridges and the enhancement of key roadways across the state. Among the 33 projects Gov. Ivey announced in January 2023, notable sites within the ATRIP-II framework include the rehabilitation of several high-traffic areas in the small towns surrounding Mobile, better access management along major roads in Montgomery and other improvements across several growing counties throughout the state.
Alabama’s commitment to these infrastructure improvements is instrumental for maintaining safe passage for residents and businesses, particularly in rural areas where bridges serve as vital links between communities. These bridge and street projects receive funding from a combination of state resources, federal grants and local partnerships, reflecting a collaborative approach to addressing the state’s transportation needs and fostering economic growth.
Furthermore, rail transportation projects in Alabama are pivotal for enhancing connectivity, improving the state’s economy and promoting sustainable transit. The Gulf Coast passenger rail service, connecting Alabama with neighboring states, is set to provide residents with efficient and eco-conscious transportation options. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, critical rail infrastructure along the Gulf Coast was destroyed, and passenger rail service in the region was suspended. The Gulf Coast passenger rail service project is expected to begin taking passengers between Mobile and New Orleans in 2024, with stops planned at a later date for towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and longer-term eyes on service to other parts of the Southeast, including the Florida Panhandle and Orlando.
Funding sources for this initiative include state funds and federal investments, and expectations are that the project will serve more than 2 million residents and more than 5 million tourists. Offering rail access along the Gulf Coast will provide transportation options for low-income residents, connect popular tourist destinations and beaches, create diverse jobs and improve access to healthcare and higher education.
Alabama’s transportation infrastructure projects reflect a holistic approach to addressing the diverse needs of its residents, visitors and businesses. By investing in major highway projects, bridge rehabilitation and rail transit, the state is fostering economic growth, reducing congestion and providing efficient and sustainable transportation options.
Georgia’s rapid growth in urban areas and smaller communities means the state must build or renovate its transportation infrastructure to keep up. The state has responded to that need with substantial investments in transportation infrastructure projects. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has allocated over $11 billion to address a wide range of projects, with a focus on rail, bridge and street improvements, including state and federal DOT initiatives. These projects are pivotal for meeting the evolving transportation needs of the state while fostering economic growth and enhancing mobility.
One of the standout initiatives in Georgia is the Metro Atlanta Express Lanes project, which aims to enhance mobility throughout the bustling Atlanta metropolitan area. These high-occupancy toll lanes are designed to alleviate traffic congestion and provide residents with a faster and more reliable commute. The initiative includes the construction of dedicated express lanes on key highways, such as I-75 and I-285, providing drivers with reliable and congestion-free travel options. The project is expected to reduce commute times, ease traffic congestion and promote more efficient transportation routes for the ever-growing population. Funding for the Metro Atlanta Express Lanes project primarily comes from a combination of state resources and innovative public-private partnerships, demonstrating a collaborative approach to meeting the transportation needs of Georgia’s residents and businesses.
Georgia is also actively addressing bridge safety and congestion on its roadways. The Major Mobility Investment Program (MMIP) focuses on improving key transportation corridors, including the reconstruction and expansion of major bridges and highways. These bridge and street projects receive funding from a combination of state resources, federal grants and partnerships with local authorities.
Furthermore, state funds, federal grants and public-private partnerships are helping to fund rail transportation, a key focus for Georgia’s infrastructure development. The Atlanta BeltLine, a transformative urban transit loop, is set to enhance connectivity within the city and provide residents with efficient and sustainable transit options.
Georgia’s multifaceted approach to transportation infrastructure responds to the rapid growth of the state while alleviating the pressure of growth on existing Georgians. By investing in express lanes, bridge improvements and rail transit, the state is growing its economic viability, easing painful commutes and promoting sustainable transportation options.
Nestled along the eastern seaboard, Maryland’s diverse topography, growing urban centers and proximity to the nation’s capital are driving significant investments in transportation infrastructure projects. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has committed over $7 billion to a multitude of rail, bridge and street improvements, with a focus on state and federal DOT initiatives. These projects are designed to meet the state’s evolving transportation needs, reduce congestion and promote efficient mobility.
One of Maryland’s more ambitious projects is Purple Line project. Despite several issues throughout construction, this 16-mile light rail transit line connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties is set to provide residents with a convenient and sustainable transportation option, reducing dependence on personal vehicles. Anticipated to be fully operational by 2027, the Purple Line will feature 21 stations, including connections to Metrorail, MARC commuter rail and Amtrak services, enhancing connectivity within the region. The project, originally slated to cost $5.6 billion, now has a price tag of $9.4 sourced from a combination of state funds, federal grants and innovative public-private partnerships.
Maryland is also actively addressing issues related to bridge safety and congestion. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge improvements and the rehabilitation of various key bridges are pivotal for maintaining safe passage for residents and travelers. These bridge projects receive funding from state and federal sources, ensuring the reliability of these critical crossings.
As well, the state’s commitment to sustainable transportation is evident through investments in street and highway projects. The expansion of major roadways, such as Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway (I-495), is essential for reducing traffic bottlenecks and enhancing commuter experiences. I-270 runs north-south from Bethesda through Montgomery County and into Frederick, an area that has seen a significant increase in congestion on an already congested roadway. The Capital Beltway (I-495) circles Washington, D.C., in both Maryland and Virginia.
The project, being pursued as a public-private partnership (P3), seeks to reconstruct and widen areas of the highway to alleviate the heavy traffic and rebuild the American Legion Bridge. Central to the project is the addition of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that will accommodate carpoolers, transit vehicles and those willing to pay the toll for a faster ride. The project plans to enhance public transit options in the region, such as bus rapid transit (BRT) systems, to reduce congestion and provide commuters with additional travel options.
While the I-270/I-495 project intends to ease the notorious gridlock in the area, the environmental sensitivity of the region has led to much debate over the potential impact on local communities and natural resources. As well, some have voiced concerns over the project’s effectiveness in meeting its goals. Environmental groups argue the additional lanes can have consequences for local ecosystems, wetlands and parkland, and they have raised questions about the potential impact on wildlife, water quality and overall environmental sustainability. Moreover, the expansion could disrupt local communities and displace residents and businesses along the route as well as lead to increased noise and light pollution. Critics have called out both the tolls and the addition of bus lanes as potentially impacting people of lower socioeconomic status, as tolls can be costly and public transit is only efficient when more investment is made in its overall viability. Nevertheless, as advocacy and public discussion are normal parts of major infrastructure project decision-making, the project is still considered viable and the state is moving forward with it.
Maryland’s transportation infrastructure projects address the diverse needs of its residents and businesses in a variety of ways. However, as demonstrated in the I-270/I-495 project, Marylanders are not afraid to raise their concerns about how proposed projects can truly meet those needs. The state and investors maintain that by investing in light rail transit, bridge rehabilitation and highway expansions, they are providing access to more opportunity and improving connectivity for both commuter and non-commuter residents.
The Garden State’s geographical proximity to major cities like New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., as well as its own internal economic needs means New Jersey must spend significant time and resources ensuring safe travel for its residents, commuters and visitors. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has allocated over $8 billion for a variety of projects, with a focus on rail, bridge and street improvements, including state and federal DOT initiatives. These projects are designed to meet the evolving transportation needs of the state while promoting economic growth and enhancing safety.
The Gateway Program is a critical rail project targeted toward enhancing connectivity between New Jersey and New York City. The program includes the Hudson Tunnel Project, Portal North Bridge Project, Portal South Bridge, Penn Station Expansion, Sawtooth Bridges Replacement, Harrison Fourth Track, Dock Bridge Rehabilitation Project, Secaucus Capacity Expansion, Secaucus/Bergen Loop and Gateway Storage Yard. The Gateway Development Commission is using design-build for the Hudson River Ground Stabilization, which will fortify and stabilize the river bed on the New York side of the Hudson. Funding sources for this initiative include a combination of state funds, federal grants, and partnerships with Amtrak.
New Jersey is also actively upgrading its highways and bridges with several projects upcoming or underway along the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. For instance, the Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension Improvements Program includes 29 bridge structures along 8.1 miles of the turnpike, all of which are in need of modernization and new safety measures. On the Garden State Parkway, NJDOT is reconstructing Interchange 105 in Tinton Falls, including replacing portions of five of the six bridges, adding ramps and lanes and relocating exits.
The NJDOT website’s list of projects awarded for fiscal year 2024 indicates the state has no intention of slowing down its progress on upgrading and improving its transportation infrastructure. Just since July, 12 projects have been awarded for a total of over $340 million and spanning several areas of the state. By investing in rail enhancements, bridge rehabilitation and street improvements, the state is embracing infrastructure endeavors that are instrumental to improving safety and enhancing the state’s connection to the rest of the region.
New York is known for the Big Apple, but the state is much larger and more diverse than just New York City. To improve the livelihood of its nearly 20 million residents –– the majority of whom do not live in New York City –– the state is at the forefront of transportation infrastructure investments. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has earmarked over $10 billion for a variety of rail, bridge and street projects, including state and federal DOT initiatives. .
The Penn Station Access Project is a transformative design-build project that aims to “bolster equity, regional connectivity and reliability.” The project includes constructing four new stations in the Bronx along the Hell Gate Line, directing some New Haven Line trains to Penn Station, adding stations on Manhattan’s West Side, ensuring ADA-accessibility and performing additional crucial upgrades to existing rail infrastructure. Per the project’s website, the expanded access will serve 500,000 Bronx residents within a mile of the new stations, create easy access to 200,000 jobs within walking distance, reduce daily vehicle miles by 80,000 and divert 2,850 daily trips in personal vehicles. By providing additional transit options and reducing the need for some commuters to transfer to the subway at Harlem-125th Street, Penn Station Access seeks to alleviate subway congestion, particularly on the Lexington Avenue Line in the East Bronx. Funding for this initiative comes from a combination of state funds, federal grants –– including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act –– and partnerships with Amtrak. The project was awarded in 2021 and is expected to be completed by 2027.
New York bridges and highways have long been undergoing rehabilitation or replacement in many parts of the state. Several years ago, the NY Works Accelerated Bridge Program focused on rehabilitation and replacement of structurally deficient bridges, with its second phase a design-build project. Still, New York lawmakers are calling for replacement or rehabilitation of additional bridges, with some studies as recently as 2017 declaring 32% of bridges to be deficient and 40% of roads to be fair, poor or worsening.
Gov. Kathy Hocul announced in July that more than $516 million would be provided for 141 local governments to update their bridges and culverts; the money is in addition to more than $716 million previously awarded. The BRIDGE NY money was divided among regions, with the New York City and Long Island regions receiving the most funding at $73.1 million and $73.5 million respectively. Other regions like the Western New York Region, Southern Tier Region and Mid-Hudson Region received more than $50 million each to complete the repairs.
Several current or recent bridge and roadway projects in New York are design-build projects, including the 2023 DBIA Merit Award winning Hunts Point Interstate Access Improvement Project Contract 1. Two Bronx River Parkway bridges, seven Grand Central Parkway bridges and the Livingston Avenue Railroad Bridge –– among others –– are also design-build projects.
Furthermore, street and highway projects funded through state money, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) programs and public-private partnerships in New York are pivotal for reducing traffic congestion and enhancing mobility. Notable projects include the expansion of the Long Island Expressway (I-495) announced in 2022 and various street enhancements in the bustling urban centers.
New York’s commitment to transportation infrastructure projects demonstrates a holistic strategy to cater to the varied requirements of its residents and businesses. Through investments in expanding rail networks, rehabilitating bridges and enhancing roadways, the state is nurturing economic development, alleviating traffic congestion and delivering efficient, environmentally responsible transportation choices. These infrastructure initiatives play a pivotal role in molding the future of mobility in New York, elevating safety standards and bolstering the state’s overall prosperity.
Pennsylvania’s growth and modernization are fueling significant investments in transportation infrastructure projects. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has allocated over $9 billion to address a wide range of projects focused on rail, bridge and street improvements, with an emphasis on state and federal DOT initiatives.
One of the state’s notable initiatives is the comprehensive overhaul of its aging bridge infrastructure, focused on rehabilitating or replacing bridges that have reached the end of their service life. Pennsylvania is home to the third largest number of state-maintained bridges and fifth largest state-maintained roadway network. This initiative is pivotal for ensuring safe passage for residents and businesses across Pennsylvania’s network of thousands of bridges. Funding sources include state funds, federal grants and partnerships with local authorities.
Street and highway projects across Pennsylvania –– funded by the state, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and public-private partnerships –– are designed to ease congestion and improve the flow of traffic. Among these projects is the ongoing rehabilitation of the Schuylkill Expressway (I-76), which aims to enhance safety and alleviate congestion on this crucial route connecting Philadelphia and the surrounding region. Additionally, major urban areas like Pittsburgh and Allentown are benefiting from street enhancements, such as the reconfiguration of key intersections and the expansion of roadways to accommodate the growing number of commuters.
A program called PennDOT Pathways is also committed to updating the state’s methods for securing funding, moving away from the 100-year-old gas tax and embracing modern fuel efficiency standards and the rise of electric vehicles. PennDOT acknowledges that, in addition to the improvements in vehicle technology, travel patterns have changed drastically due to other shifts like remote work, online shopping, technology advances and unemployment. Thus, PennDOT’s position is that the gas tax is outdated and ineffective for securing funding to maintain transportation infrastructure.
Pennsylvania is also making substantial investments in rail transportation. The proposed Amtrak Keystone Corridor upgrade aims to improve rail connectivity between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, reducing travel times and enhancing commuter experiences. These rail improvements are essential for providing residents with efficient and sustainable transit options and are funded by a combination of state, federal and Amtrak investments.
The infrastructure projects in Pennsylvania exemplify a comprehensive strategy aimed at catering to both its residents and businesses. Through significant investments in bridge restoration, railway enhancements and street renovations, the state is actively promoting economic expansion, getting ahead of the state’s growth and revitalization and offering sustainable and eco-friendly transportation alternatives.
Texas is experiencing substantial investments in transportation infrastructure projects. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has committed over $20 billion to a multitude of projects, with a focus on rail, bridge and street improvements, including state and federal DOT initiatives. These projects are designed to meet the evolving transportation needs of the state while fostering economic growth and ensuring safety.
One of the standout initiatives in Texas is the high-speed rail project connecting Dallas and Houston. The project was originally announced in 2012 with 2020 as the target completion date, but leadership changes, environmental concerns and land rights controversies halted progress. In August, Texas Central Partners and Amtrak announced plans to revive the $30 billion railway, but they did not indicate a timeline. Nonetheless, the ambitious plan would bridge the nation’s second largest state from one of its major cities to another.
Comprising roughly 240 miles of high-speed rail line, the project will serve the more than 100,000 Texans who travel between Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth multiple times a week –– known as “super-commuters.” The trains will move from end to end in under 90 minutes at a speed in excess of 200 miles per hour. Passenger stations will boost the state’s economy along the route by offering retail, restaurants, shops and services, and parking will be available on-site. Funding sources for this initiative include a combination of private investments and partnerships.
Texas is also actively addressing bridge safety and congestion on its roadways. The Texas Clear Lanes initiative focuses on improving key transportation corridors, including the reconstruction and expansion of major bridges and highways, in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. All of the state’s major interstates –– I-10, I-30, I-35, I-45, I-410 and several others –– are slated for upgrades. These bridge and street projects receive funding from a combination of state resources, federal grants and partnerships with local authorities.
Furthermore, rail transportation is a key focus for Texas’s infrastructure development. The expansion of the DART light rail system in Dallas and various commuter rail projects are pivotal for enhancing connectivity and providing residents with efficient and sustainable transit options. As an example, the Southern Gateway Project, a design-build endeavor begun in 2020 and completed in 2022, includes widening I-35E, U.S. 67, and I-20, reconstructing non-tolled express lanes and making other structural upgrades. Funding sources for these projects include a combination of state funds and federal investments.
The immense span of Texas demands an extensive transportation network to connect its sprawling cities. From investing in high-speed rail to upgrading bridges and expanding rail transit, the state is actively cultivating economic growth, alleviating congestion and advocating for sustainable transportation solutions. As Texas advances, these infrastructure initiatives play a critical role in shaping its future mobility and fortifying connectivity, safety, and the state’s prosperity.
As we explore the extensive landscape of transportation infrastructure projects in various states, one thing remains clear: the future of project delivery methods is as dynamic as the projects themselves. While we can’t predict with certainty which of these initiatives will ultimately adopt the design-build delivery method, one thing is certain — the sheer magnitude of funds being allocated for transportation infrastructure nationwide ensures design-build will play a pivotal role in shaping the way we build, enhance and modernize our critical infrastructure.
In the ever-evolving field of design-build, staying informed and connected is key. DBIA conferences bring together industry experts, thought leaders and innovators to delve deeper into the future of transportation infrastructure, project delivery methods and the latest trends shaping our dynamic landscape. Next month, join us for the 2023 Design-Build Conference & Expo in National Harbor, Maryland (Nov. 1–3) and mark your calendars for the Design-Build for Transportation/Aviation Conference, Apr. 17–19, 2024, in Cincinnati.