The Abundance of Upcoming Surface Transportation Projects Creates High Demand for Experienced Contracting Partners

by Mary Scott Nabers

Large funding grants for surface transportation projects are available from the federal government’s Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program. This program, actively overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is especially focused on funding projects that hold regional or national significance.

Applications that were approved in 2023 will provide between $5.45 to $5.58 billion for new transportation projects expected to launch in 2024 or 2025. The funding allocations and the type of projects to be supported will be announced soon. However, numerous examples of projects have already been funded, and many are also about to launch.

The Indiana Department of Transportation received a $127 million award for a $212 million FlexRoad project. The project’s design will focus on adjustments and advanced features to be added to the I-80/I-94 corridor. The objective will be to improve traffic flow on a 14-mile-long section of Indiana’s busiest stretch of the Interstate Highway.

Photo by kimi lee on Unsplash

The project is currently in an environmental design phase, but planning documents outline four of the designs under consideration. They include dynamic shoulder lanes, traffic accident management components, upgraded signage and intersection improvements. Additionally, the project will include ramp metering, variable speed limits, dynamic lane control, and queue warnings. Bidding will begin in 2025.

The Community Connector Roadway in New York is part of an extensive $258 million initiative to upgrade the Cross Bronx Expressway in Bronx County.  It is funded by a $150 million Mega Grant from the federal program. This project will renew and replace five key bridges and access roads, enhance the expressway’s function and add a new direct access ramp from the southbound Bronx River Parkway to the westbound Cross Bronx Expressway. Additionall, there is a plan to construct a multimodal Community Connector Roadway neighboring the highway.  It will feature specialized lanes for buses and paths for cyclists and pedestrians, allowing improved local connectivity. This roadway will serve as a strategic detour to reduce traffic disruptions during construction. It will connect to key recreational areas such as Starlight Park and the Bronx River Greenway upon completion.

Currently in the development phase, this project’s bidding is scheduled for Summer 2025, with construction starting in 2025.

In an effort to enhance transportation safety, mobility and environmental sustainability in Maryland, the Department of Transportation allocated $80 million to upgrade the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel. The work carries a total project cost of $160 million. It will modernize critical infrastructure and replace a toll plaza near the tunnel with an overhead gantry for electronic toll collection.  It will also improve rail safety and redesign the Frankfurt Avenue bridge for better freight and vehicle accommodation.

The federal investment, matched with state funds, provides support to alleviate congestion, enhance traffic flow, reduce idling vehicles, and improve access to Maryland’s rail and port facilities. With more than 25 million vehicles using the tunnel annually, these improvements are vital for ensuring smoother and safer travel in the region. The project will utilize a Design-Build method with best value selection.  A pre-proposal conference and site visit is planned for this spring, along with the release of solicitations.  Construction is planned to begin in 2026.

After securing $117 million in federal funding from the Mega Grant program and another $162.1 million from other sources, Chicago’s Metra will replace 11 bridges, 4 miles of track structure, and 1.75 miles of retaining walls along the UP-N line. The $337 million project will replace over a century-old structures and improve tracks along a heavily used commuter line in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Construction will be completed in three stages. These include demolishing the existing third unused track bay and constructing new bridges and tracks.. Existing tracks will also be demolished as the new tracks are being built. Project plans also include constructing retaining walls on the east and west sides of the railroad property. The project is still in the design phase, and that will determine the exact timing of each construction phase. Generally, construction is set to begin in mid-2024.

. Last month, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced that it received nearly $53 million to cover the cost of rebuilding Route 9 in Bloomington. The funding will allow for significant improvements along the Route 9 corridor, including pavement resurfacing, replacement of curbs and gutters, and sidewalk and ADA improvements.

Additionally, bike lanes and shared bike and pedestrian paths will be constructed along with traffic signal upgrades and the relocation of an existing bus stop. The improvements will be split into several construction contracts and the first award will be made in the spring of 2024.

The Utah Department of Transportation is preparing for an estimated $117 million infrastructure project that will address long-standing traffic safety and efficiency concerns along a vital stretch of the I-15 interstate in Iron County. This enhancement is particularly timely as this area is experiencing significant growth.  The region’s population surge, particularly in areas adjacent to the project, has resulted in increased congestion and an urgent need to improve the traffic flow.

Another federal funding award of $70.4 million will allow the construction of a climbing lane to the I-15 roadway across a 16-mile uphill stretch notorious for traffic and safety challenges. Additionally, upgrades are planned for a critical interchange along the northern boundary of the project. Currently in the environmental review phase and awaiting a detailed design development phase, construction is planned for 2026.

These types of projects will be found throughout the U.S. as infrastructure reform continues. Demand is extremely high for contractors with expertise, experience, and good references.