Applications Open for PROTECT Grant Program
Last week, the Federal Highway Administration opened applications for the first round of the bipartisan infrastructure law’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program.
“Climate change threatens not just our lives and livelihoods, but the infrastructure we rely on every day,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With these grants, we will help ensure that our roads, bridges, and highways are resilient enough to withstand extreme weather, and will create good-paying jobs along the way.”
About the Program
Last year, at the end of July, the FHWA announced the first-of-its-kind infrastructure program to help states prepare for and respond to extreme weather events. The $7.3 billion PROTECT Formula Program funding is available through President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law.
The PROTECT program offers the funding to states over five years to make transportation infrastructure more resilient to future weather events and other natural disasters, such as wildfires, flooding and extreme heat. The focus will be on resilience planning, making resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and addressing at-risk highway infrastructure.
According to the FHWA, in general, eligible projects include highway and transit projects, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and port facilities including those that help improve evacuations or disaster relief. States are encouraged to work with regional and local partner organizations to prioritize transportation, emergency response improvements and address vulnerabilities.
Eligible improvements can involve adapting existing transportation infrastructure or new construction to keep communities safe by bolstering infrastructure’s ability to withstand extreme weather events and other physical hazards. Additionally, projects may include the use of natural or green infrastructure to buffer future storm surges and provide flood protection, as well as aquatic ecosystem restoration.
The FHWA reports that PROTECT builds on other U.S. Department of Transportation actions to support the Biden Administration’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. These actions include a proposed rule for states and municipalities to track and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the Carbon Reduction Program, which will provide $6.4 billion in formula funding to states and local governments to develop carbon reduction strategies; and the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, which will provide $5 billion to states to build out a national electric vehicle charging network.
A breakdown of estimated funding for the program over five years by state can be found here.
First Round Applications
On April 21, as part of the Investing in America agenda, it was announced by the DOT that applications were open for $848 million in competitive grant funding to improve the country’s surface transportation system against impacts of climate change.
According to the release, the program prioritizes innovative and collaborative approaches to risk reduction, including approaches that harness the power of nature to protect against flood, erosion, wave damage and heat impacts.
The grant funding comes on top of PROTECT formula funding already provided to states. Projects funded by sates using funding through the $7.3 billion PROTECT Formula Program include:
“Every community in America knows the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, whether that means record rainfall in California, flooding up and down the Mississippi River; hurricanes venturing as far south as Puerto Rico and as far north as Delaware; or wildfires not limited to a defined season and becoming instead a constant threat to more and more Americans,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt.
“This investment from the Biden Harris Administration to ensure our infrastructure is built to withstand more frequent and unpredictable extreme weather is critical for communities counting on a road or bridge to be open for first responders, and it is critical for a business that must get its essential goods to shelves.”
The DOT reports that grant applicants at all levels of government, from local governments and Indian Tribes to State DOTs, are encouraged to apply. The Notice of Funding Opportunity can be found here. Applications will remain open through Aug. 18.