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Graves: U.S. DOT Giving Out Nearly $1 Billion in Grants Without Proper Criteria

June 30, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) questions how the U.S. Department of Transportation moved forward in giving nearly $1 billion in grants to transportation and infrastructure projects with subjective criteria, objectives, and goals.

On March 25, 2021, Graves asked Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Pete Buttigieg about how under the new criteria for Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants set by the current DOT, there is apparent disregard for legal requirements in exchange for unquantifiable political objectives. The key program objectives established distort, undermine, and even contradict the objectives required by law. Graves first brought the issue to Buttigieg’s attention the week before March 25, 2021.

“Nearly $1 billion was given out this week in INFRA grants without proper criteria. We raised this issue to Secretary Buttigieg in March, and this is why we have concerns about how this Administration is running things. Not one project in Louisiana made the list despite our energy, resiliency and infrastructure priorities, or our traffic and flooding problems,” Graves said.

Rep. Graves questions Sec. Buttigieg.jpg

Background on INFRA:

INFRA was made possible due to a Graves’ amendment to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which requires that projects that provide a return on investment and solve traffic problems receive priority consideration for INFRA grants.

As a member of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and as the sole member of Louisiana’s delegation, Graves attended the March 2021 hearing and was able to advocate for the state’s needs. The hearing was one of the first steps in laying the groundwork for federal investments into Louisiana’s transportation and infrastructure priorities – especially as Congress must pass a new surface transportation bill this year.

When discussing the INFRA program and the criteria, objectives and goals put forth to advance the program at the March 2021 hearing with ButtigiegGraves said:

“We included a number of things I think were important: efficiency in transportation system, mobility, national energy security, resiliency and others. I was disheartened when I read the press release coming from Department of Transportation that indicated climate change, racial equality and environmental justice were the priorities. Those are not in the statute, yet, the statutory objectives weren’t mentioned.”

How Louisiana benefitted from the FAST Act items and INFRA:

Most recently, it was announced Louisiana Highway 1 was receiving a $135 million grant from DOT to construct approximately 8.3 miles of elevated highway from Leeville Bridge to Golden Meadow. It was the largest transportation grant awarded in the nation. Graves first brought this national energy security idea to Secretary Elaine Chao on November 2, 2017.

To read more about how Louisiana benefitted from the 2015 FAST Act, click here.