USDOT Rolls Out $2.9 billion In Available Funding for Infrastructure Grants
Taking steps to put the recently-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law into action, the White House and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) said this week that $2.9 billion in funding is now available through a combined NOFO (notice of funding opportunity).
DOT said that this NOFO meshes three discretionary grant programs into a single Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant and reducing the burden for state and local applicants while also increasing the pipeline of what it calls “shovel-worthy” projects.
The three discretionary grant programs include:
- the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (MEGA) program to fund major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs and provide grants on a competitive basis to support multijurisdictional or regional projects of significance that may also cut across multiple modes of transportation. Eligible projects could include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail, and public transportation projects of national and regional significance. DOT will award 50% of funding to projects greater than $500 million in cost, and 50% to projects greater than $100 million but less than $500 million in cost. The program will receive up to $1 billion this year alone and be able to provide multi-year funding to projects;
- the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA), an existing competitive program, will see a more than 50% increase in this year’s funding due to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, with grants advancing the Administration’s priorities of rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating jobs by funding highway, multimodal freight and rail projects that position America to win the 21st century. DOT said these projects will improve safety, generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, enhance resiliency, and hold the greatest promise to eliminate supply chain bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides approximately $8 billion for INFRA over 5 years, of which approximately $1.55 billion will be made available through this NOFO; and
- the Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (RURAL), which was created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will support projects to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas to increase connectivity, improve the safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight, and generate regional economic growth and improve quality of life. Eligible projects for Rural grants include highway, bridge, and tunnel projects that help improve freight, safety, and provide or increase access to an agricultural, commercial, energy, or transportation facilities that support the economy of a rural area. This year alone, DOT will award up to $300 million in grants through the rural program—part of the $2 billion included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law over five years.
“We have been traveling this year to see the pressing infrastructure needs that we have been talking about, hearing about, and worrying about for decades,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at a press conference yesterday. “And through those decades of underinvestment, there has been a lot to see, in terms of the need around this country. We have been hearing from people describing how poor infrastructure has affected their lives. We have seen ports, bridges, and tunnels that the country relies on that are part of the lifeblood of our economy that are depending on technology that is more than a century old.”
Buttigieg explained that DOT has talked to truckers and small business owners in rural areas, from Arizona to Alabama about the costs to livelihoods and families, when local bridges are closed, adding that it has seen how Americans are united around that urgent needs to make these improvements.
“Because of President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, we are now able to answer that call with a historic investment,” he said. “In recent weeks, we have launched the effort to fix an estimated 15,000 bridges around the country. We have put forward the largest investment ever in our port infrastructure development program (PIDP) to move goods more quickly and smoothly and now we are taking another major step that is going to improve everyday life in America, with a $2.9B commitment to communities across three programs.”
And with one application for three marquee intramodal programs, with a shared set of criteria, he said the driver for that was to make the process simpler and more straightforward to apply for and to navigate.
“We can user a simpler, smoother process to reduce the burden and make this process fair, especially for smaller communities and give DOT a more holistic view of the needs across many programs,” he said.
By: Jeff Berman / Logistics Management