The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed $9 million in grant funding to South Jersey Port Corp. to improve the Port of Salem, helping to alleviate traffic congestion and wear and tear on surrounding roads.
“These timely investments in our infrastructure will create jobs and support regional economies while helping to spur innovation, confront climate change, and address inequities across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg on the grant, part of the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program.
The project will rehabilitate a 150-linear-foot bulkhead and extend it to approximately 500 linear feet; dredge the new berth; acquire an adjacent approximate 6-acre former glass manufacturing facility; and perform site preparation, improvements, and refurbish a multi-modal rail connection, according to a June 30 announcement.
The Port of Salem improvement project will expand the Port’s barge capacity and allow shipments of concrete and sand to the New York City area by barge rather than by truck. This will help both congestion and roadway maintenance costs.
The improvements will also allow the Port to accommodate the vessels that assist the manufacturing, assembly, and transport of large wind energy components for projects such as the proposed turbine farm off the Jersey shore.
The Port of Salem and other potential grantees were selected based on several criteria. Projects that would improve local economies and create jobs were prioritized; and for the first time in USDOT history, grants were considered by how they would address climate change, environmental justice, and racial equity.
Additionally, USDOT prioritized funding to rural areas to address historic underinvestment by proposing approximately 44% of funding to rural projects. INFRA’s statutory requirement is 25%.
USDOT received 157 eligible applications from 42 states, as well as Guam totaling a collective request of approximately $6.8 billion, more than seven times the funding available.
Congress will have 60 days to review the Department’s proposed project awardees under the FAST Act, and thereafter, the Department is free to begin obligating funding.