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DOT Announces $900M in Infrastructure Grants

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity on Monday (April 22), totaling $900 million in grants through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary Grants program.


In April 2018, the U.S. DOT announced that it would be replacing the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program with BUILD, in order to shift focus on more rural infrastructure projects.

AgnosticPreachersKid, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a Notice of Funding Opportunity on Monday (April 22), totaling $900 million in grants through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Transportation Discretionary Grants program.

“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.

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.

Previous BUILD Grants

Originally requesting $11 billion in funding, by August 2018 the U.S. Senate passed a proposal slated to provide $1 billion in infrastructure grants for the 2019 fiscal year. (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.) The package breakdown included:

  • $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.

In the months following the proposal, the U.S. DOT announced in December that $1.5 billion in infrastructure funding had been approved for more than 91 projects across 49 states, including the District of Columbia, with bridge projects taking home more than two-thirds of the grant money.

For this latest round of BUILD grants, many of them would be in the range of $5 million to $25 million, with some rural projects being granted as little as $1 million. Although the plan was created to focus on more rural projects, developments that required federal funding to round out their financing packages were given priority.

However, by February 2019 BUILD’s grants took a $600 million cut in the $333 billion fiscal year 2019 spending bill signed by President Donald J. Trump.

What’s Happening Now

Regardless of the cut from funding earlier this year, Chao made it clear in a recent statement that large portions of the funding would be spent specifically toward improving rural infrastructure.

“These BUILD Transportation grants will provide needed infrastructure investment to better connect rural and urban communities around our nation,” said Chao.

To support the Administration’s efforts to rebalance rural America from previous under-investments, the U.S. DOT plans to award up to 50% of BUILD grants located in rural areas that align with the selection criteria.

These grants are inteded for use toward roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or other forms of intermodal transportation. The program also allows for special consideration to projects that emphasize better access to reliable, safe and affordable transportation in rural communities, however.

Special consideration criteria include projects that plan to improve the condition of infrastructure, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, facilitate economic growth or competitiveness, deploy broadband as part of an eligible transportation project or promote energy independence.

Municipalities will also have to make sure that projects seeking funding are planned to encompass safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, quality of life, innovation and partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders.

The maximum grant award during this round of BUILD grants will be $25 million, with no more than $90 million awarded to an individual state.

Stakeholders seeking technical assistance may view additional details and registration information for a U.S. DOT series of 2019 BUILD webinars, here.

The deadline to submit applications for the FY 2019 BUILD grants program is July 15, 2019.


Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); DOT; Funding; Government; Grants; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; North America; Program/Project Management; Z-Continents

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