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USDOT Reveals Map to Inspire Investments

Monday, January 20, 2020

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In the beginning of January, the United States Department of Transportation announced its release of a new interactive map, designed to highlight federal investments in major infrastructure projects located in or near existing Opportunity Zones.

Created as means to promote economic investments, the designated areas are described as economically distressed and low-income communities, and in certain cases, can even be eligible for preferential tax treatment.

“Opportunity Zones have the potential to increase job creation in underserved communities, especially in rural areas, and the Department is working to ensure there are transportation links to opportunity zones,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

U.S. DOT

In the beginning of January, the United States Department of Transportation announced its release of a new interactive map, designed to highlight federal investments in major infrastructure projects located in or near existing Opportunity Zones.

In October, the USDOT created the Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success program to do just that. Known as “ROUTES,” the program aids connectivity for the zone areas.

As for the preferential tax treatment—also known as the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act—it also helped to create the Opportunity Zones, which are designated by the State’s Governor and certified by the United States Secretary of the Treasury in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

Currently, there are approximately 8,700 zones nationwide with 40% located in rural census tracts, 38% are in urban tracts and 22% are in suburban tracts. Since the establishment of the zones, USDOT has awarded $2 billion via 13 Notices of Funding Opportunity directed rural and urban areas that qualify.

Additional work to promote zone engagement involved the USDOT updating the criteria of federal infrastructure programs, which led to awarding roughly $450 million to projects in rural areas through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development discretionary grants.

In revising the criteria of these infrastructure programs, USDOT reports that its interactive map now illustrates data for:

  • Major Federal Highway Projects;
  • Interstate Exits;
  • National Highway System Bridges;
  • Intercity Bus Stations;
  • Commuter/Light Rail Stations;
  • Amtrak (Stations, Industrial Properties);
  • Intermodal Rail Facilities;
  • Intermodal Marine Facilities;
  • Major Ports;
  • Airports;
  • National Highway System; and
  • Rail Sidings.

Visually, viewers can see major metropolitan centers highlighted in yellow, while rural Opportunity Zones are highlighted in green and are spread out across country.

From here, Ronald Fieldstone, partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr predicts that investors will examine the new map and hopefully act on opportunities found in economically viable locations to inquire about building and construction opportunities.

"For governments to make this program work, they have to invest money,” said Fieldstone. “If you create the infrastructure, you're encouraging development near opportunity zones."

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Funding; Government; Grants; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Qualification programs; Taxes; Transportation

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