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Senate Passes Bill with $1B for BUILD Grants

Friday, August 10, 2018

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Early last week, the U.S. Senate passed a proposal that provides $1 billion in infrastructure grants for fiscal 2019—funding that would go to BUILD infrastructure grants, formerly known as TIGER grants.

The $1 billion slice of the pie is part of a larger $154.2 billion package that would provide funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. Funding would also be allocated for financial and environmental agencies.

BUILD Infrastructure Grants

In April, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a notice of funding opportunity for those interested in applying for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grants for 2018. BUILD replaced the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program. Officials are required to award 30 percent of the BUILD grants to rural areas.

“BUILD Transportation grants will help communities revitalize their surface transportation systems while also increasing support for rural areas to ensure that every region of our country benefits,” said Secretary Elaine L. Chao in the announcement for the 2018 fiscal year grants.

© iStock.com / Ryan Herron

Officials are required to award 30 percent of the BUILD grants to rural areas.

Projects covered under BUILD are evaluated based on “safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnership and additional non-federal revenue for future transportation infrastructure investments,” according to the DOT.

Senate Approval

According to Transport Topics, the BUILD grants have helped fund projects of regional significance, garnering applause from policymakers; the grants help bring to life projects that state and local governments may have had issues funding. Recipients have included the Port of Baltimore and regional railways in Maine.

“At its core, much in this bill is about creating jobs and security for our fellow Americans,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Appropriations Subcommittee, and sponsor of the bill. “If the infrastructure is crumbling, it is very difficult for a business to hire the employees that produce goods and to get those products to markets.”

The package breakdown includes:

  • $49.3 billion for critical highway infrastructure, including $800 million for bridges in rural areas;
  • $4.1 billion earmarked for airport infrastructure; and
  • $26.6 billion in discretionary spending for the DOT.

The House has yet to pass the proposal and may have different dollar figures in mind for some of the items, but Senate funding leader Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) emphasized the commitment to working with House counterparts to finalize funding before the start of the new fiscal year.

“The Senate’s vote signals that funding public transit is and should remain a federal priority, despite the objections of the current administration,” said Kevin Thompson, group director for Transportation for America.

“Millions of Americans are counting on new or improved transit service to provide options for reaching jobs and opportunity, and local governments are counting on federal funds to leverage local taxpayer revenue and bring these projects to fruition.”

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Funding; Government; Infrastructure

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