Transportation Projects Awarded $1.5B Funding
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg announced that 26 projects have been awarded a total of $1.5 billion from the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) competitive grant program.
The program is aimed at highway, multimodal freight and rail projects to make the country’s transportation systems safer and more resilient, eliminate supply chain bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements.
“Today we are announcing transformative investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and rail to improve the way Americans get around and help lower the costs of shipping goods,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “Using funding from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are able to support more excellent community-led projects this year than ever before.”
Funding was increased for the INFRA program by more than 50% because of the bipartisan infrastructure law, helping to meet high demand for federal funding to support projects across the country. Over the next five years, the law is expected to provide about $8 billion for the INFRA program, including this round of funding.
Additionally, funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law has expanded INFRA eligibility to include wildlife crossing projects, marine highway corridor projects and surface transportation projects located within or functionally connected to an international border crossing.
@USDOT has awarded $1.5B in #Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or #INFRA grants for #highway, #multimodal #freight & #railroad projects. #logistics #transportation #rail #cargo #road #construction #supplychain @aashtospeaks @ARTBA @AGCofA https://t.co/jqPNuGTZut pic.twitter.com/lFkiDKUTHu— Sean Kilcarr (@AASHTOsean) September 15, 2022
This year, applicants were able to submit one application in a new, streamline process from the U.S. Department of Transportation for three different grant programs, including INFRA, the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (RURAL), and the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program (MEGA). The Department reports that recipients of RURAL and MEGA grants will be announced in the coming months.
INFRA projects were evaluated on several factors, including:
A significant amount of funding was also awarded to rural areas, historically disadvantaged communities and areas of persistent poverty to address historic underinvestment in these communities. About 43% of awards are reported to go toward rural projects, exceeding the statutory requirement to award these projects 25% of INFRA funding.
Awarded project examples include the Rockport Bridge Rehabilitation Freight Rail Project in Kentucky, the I-375 Community Reconnection Project in Detroit and the I-39/90/94 Wisconsin River Bridges Project. The full list of awarded projects can be found here.
Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant
Earlier this year, in March, Secretary Buttigieg announced $2.9 billion for competitive grants to improve U.S. transportation infrastructure as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. Through the combined Notice of Funding Opportunity, state, regional and local governments will be able to apply for funding and increase the pipeline of “shovel-worthy” projects.
The Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant opportunity is a combination of three major discretionary grant programs:
According to the DOT’s release, the MEGA program was created in the bipartisan infrastructure law to fund major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs, providing grants on a competitive basis to support multijurisdictional or regional projects of significance that may also cut across multiple modes of transportation.
For this program, eligible projects could reportedly include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail and public transportation projects. Additionally, the DOT explains that this could include bridges or tunnels connecting two states; new rail and transit lines that improve equity and reduce emissions; and freight hubs integrating ship, train and truck traffic while improving environmental justice.
The DOT plans to 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. This program will receive $1 billion this year and provide multi-year funding to projects.
For the INFRA program, projects are expected to improve safety, generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, enhance resiliency, eliminate supply chain bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements. The existing competitive grant program will see a more than 50% increase in this year’s funding because of the infrastructure bill and provide approximately $8 billion over five years, of which about $1.55 billion is made available through the NOFO.
Finally, for RURAL, grants 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. The DOT anticipated awarding up to $300 million In grants through the program, with $2 billion over the next five years.
Eligible projects reportedly 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.
“Putting these three programs under a single NOFO makes it easier for communities to apply to one, two, or three major discretionary grant programs with a single application and common set of criteria,” wrote the department in its release. “The Department will make awards under the three grant programs consistent with each grant program’s statutory language and will focus on supporting projects that improve safety, economic competitiveness, equity, and climate and sustainability.”
Additionally, the DOT expects the single solicitation to allow for a more comprehensive view of projects in development across the country. The deadline for applications ended on May 23.
Other Recent Awards
The week prior to the INFRA grant announcement, the DOT announced that more $2.2 billion has been awarded from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program for transportation projects.
The program aims to help urban and rural communities move forward on projects that modernize roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports and intermodal transportation, as well as make transportation systems safer, more accessible, more affordable and more sustainable.
According to the release, projects were evaluated on several criteria, including safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, partnership and collaboration, innovation, state of good repair, and mobility and community connectivity.
Then, the Department considered how projects will improve accessibility for all travelers, bolster supply chain efficiency, and support racial equity and economic growth, especially in historically disadvantaged communities and areas of persistent poverty.
Because of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which provides an additional $7.5 billion over five years for the program, this year’s allocations include more than $2.2 billion. Half of this funding is reportedly designated for projects in rural areas, while the remaining 50% is designated for projects in urban areas.
The DOT reports that nearly two-thirds of projects are located in areas of persistent poverty or historically disadvantaged communities. The largest grant awarded is $25 million, but, per statute, no more than $341.25 million can be awarded to a single state in this round of funding.
Additionally, 11 of this year’s selected projects include a local hire provision. Several projects reportedly include workforce development aspects with four projects having project labor agreements, eight projects have registered apprenticeship programs and an additional eight projects with other workforce development provisions.
In total, 116 infrastructure projects across the country were awarded funding from the grant program. The full list of awarded RAISE projects can be found here.