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SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Department of Transportation on Thursday announced that it was delivering a little more than $25.4 million in funds to Utah, which will be put toward a pair of projects aimed at modernizing the state's infrastructure.
Nearly all of the money awarded on Thursday will go toward the State Route 224 Battery Electric Bus and BRT Project in Summit County. The county and its partner, High Valley Transit, received $25 million toward its plan to create a bus rapid system between Kimball Junction and Park City, which will feature electric vehicles and renewable energy infrastructure by the time it's complete.
The remaining $445,000 will head to the Utah Inland Port Authority to help it create a market assessment and business case analysis for a multi-modal logistics center and related infrastructure needs in southern Utah.
The money allotted to Utah comes from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program, a component of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed last year. In all, about $2.2 billion went to projects that "modernize" roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports and intermodal transportation, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
"We are proud to support so many outstanding infrastructure projects in communities large and small, modernizing America's transportation systems to make them safer, more affordable, more accessible, and more sustainable," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a statement Thursday.
Summit County officials celebrated the latest round of project funding, noting Friday that $25 million is the most that one project could receive from the RAISE program. The federal funding follows another $30.3 million that the Utah Legislature directed the project earlier this year.
The project, which county officials say will make state Route 224 the "operational backbone of Summit County's transit services," will include dedicated lanes in each direction through most of S.R. 224. It will be used exclusively by transit vehicles, school buses and emergency vehicles once open.
The funding also helps obtain five battery-powered buses and the electric charging infrastructure needed to charge the vehicles. In addition, the county will build two new transit stations and conduct improvements on three existing stations. An environmental review of the project is expected to be completed next month and a final design is expected to be released in early 2023.
"This award elevates attention to our small, rural transit system to a national level and acknowledges the innovative approaches we're employing to move people across the Wasatch Back," said Chris Robinson, the chairman of the Summit County Council, in a statement.
Utah Inland Port Authority officials were equally excited about the money they received. Jack Hedge, the port authority's president, said Friday that it is currently planning ways to connect "strategic locations" in southwest Utah, like Cedar City, to "coastal ports and other logistics hubs across the country."
"It brings jobs to rural areas, creates efficiencies within the statewide system and enables innovation in smart and sustainable logistics technologies," he said. "This is yet another critical step in the process of future-proofing Utah's links to the global supply chain."
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who helped craft the infrastructure bill last year, also applauded Thursday's announcement, saying the funds will "better position" both Utah and the U.S. as both navigate "infrastructure-related challenges of the 21st century." He added that the projects also have the ability to expand Utah commerce.
The federal transportation department also awarded Utah about $12 million recently to help the state modernize transportation infrastructure so it can withstand the impact of a changing climate, something that Buttigieg announced during a visit to Utah last month. The state is expected to receive about another $53 million in similar funds over the next few years.