US DOT Opens $5.6B in Infrastructure Funding

FRIDAY, JUNE 30, 2023


On Tuesday (June 27), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for up to $5.575 billion in funding for projects of regional or national significance.

The funding is reportedly part of President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will work to support three major discretionary grant programs involving surface transportation projects “designed to strengthen supply chains, spur economic development, and improve safety and daily life.”

About the Funding

The Administration states that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is working to grow the American economy “from the bottom up and middle-out,” rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure by creating a manufacturing boom fueled by good-paying jobs that don’t require a degree and building a “clean-energy economy” to combat climate change and make communities more resilient.

According to Tuesday's announcement, available funding for new projects include:

  • $1.8 billion for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) program: The Mega program supports large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and are likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits;
  • $3.1 billion for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program: The INFRA program awards competitive grants to multimodal freight and highway projects of national or regional significance to improve the safety, accessibility, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas; and
  • $675 million for the Rural Surface Transportation Grant (Rural) program: The Rural program supports projects that improve and expand our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas in order 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.

“From fixing rural roads that would otherwise have trouble getting federal funding, to addressing some of the largest and most recognizable bridges and tunnels in the country, the funds in these three programs are supporting transformational infrastructure projects across the nation,” said Buttigieg.

“Using a combined process to reduce paperwork, we are pleased to open this new round of funding for applications and look forward to hearing from project sponsors around the country seeking funds to help strengthen their communities through infrastructure.”

Additionally, the DOT has reportedly awarded another $274 million for 12 projects through the Rural grant program, as well as $1.5 billion for 26 projects through the INFRA program.

Last year, the Department also reportedly awarded around $1.2 billion from the Mega Program for nine projects across the country. These projects, the release states, will create good-paying jobs, grow the economy, strengthen supply chains, improve resident mobility and make the transportation systems safer for users.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will reportedly make available up to $5 billion for the Mega, $8 billion to the INFRA program and $2 billion for the Rural program, for a combined total of $15 billion for the fiscal years of 2022 through 2026. According to the release, Congress may also add additional annual appropriations to these amounts.

The release also states that applications seeking $1 billion or more in Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MPDG) program funds will be reviewed and assessed on if the current project’s estimated costs are “reasonable” and if lower cost alternatives exist.

The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 21. Applicants can reportedly find the notice of funding opportunity (NOFO), frequently asked questions and other resources here.

Previous Actions

In May of this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it would add $24 million in grants to expedite delivery of transportation infrastructure projects at the local and regional levels. 

Issued through the Build America Bureau, the new funding would make the total investment in the Regional Infrastructure Accelerators Program to $34 million.

According to the release, the Bureau issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity for grant applications to designate “Accelerators” that would serve defined geographic areas, provide technical resources, and fund planning and development activities to expedite project delivery.

According to the Department’s release, $10 million had previously been awarded to Accelerators nationwide, serving in a project development role that can focus resources, funding and expertise to expedite planning, development and delivery at the local and regional level.

Additionally, the Accelerators assisted in project planning, evaluating innovative financing, accessing technical assistance and best practices and developing a pipeline of projects ready for investment. The Bureau administered multiple technical assistance programs, including the Accelerators Program, that aimed to build capacity at local and regional levels to explore innovative funding, financing and delivery solutions.

The Build America Bureau advances investment in transportation infrastructure by lending Federal funds to qualified borrowers; clearing roadblocks for credit worthy projects; and encouraging best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operations.

Then, later that same month (May 15), the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new set of plans to pass as a part of bipartisan permitting reform legislation. The plans arrived almost one year after the White House's Permitting Action Plan was released. 

According to the White House, the actions were anticipated to create new union jobs, combat climate change, grow the economy and lower costs. The Administration outlined a list of recommendations that could help speed up the permitting process, including:

  • Improve permitting efficiency and predictability;
  • Enhance data collection needed for effective permitting;
  • Cut duplicative and burdensome analysis and reviews;
  • Improve community engagement;
  • Address gaps in permitting workforce;
  • Establish clearer requirements for mitigating environmental harms; and
  • Incentivize state and local permitting reform and standardization.

The Biden-Harris Administration also stated that necessary permits, reviews and approvals must be robust and completed within a reasonable timeframe. To aid in this process, the administration urged Congress to act and improve coordination of federal data sharing, expand the use of programmatic and tiered reviews and reduce the length of federal decision documents.

Streamlining this process also reportedly included the enhancement of data collection. The White House noted that the systems used by many agencies today are either outdated or rely on paper systems. To combat this, the White House also reported it was pushing for the development of automated, joint electronic permit application for federal agencies.

In June, the White House unveiled a new interactive website that showcases about 32,000 infrastructure projects that are underway thanks to the Investing in America Agenda. The map reportedly illustrates the impact of the “record-breaking levels” of public and private investment across states and territories. 

The agenda included investments from President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, as well as private sector investments mobilized by the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act and the American Rescue Plan.

Users on the site can look at a national map or scroll through projects by state, including documents for private investments of more than $100 million. It also reportedly provides additional economic data and details at the state level.

According to reports, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Natalie Quillian said that the site showed that Biden’s agenda is “underway and working.”

A general overview broke down the funding announced so far by category, including manufacturing and clean energy ($479 billion); and rebuilding infrastructure (over $220 billion). Additionally, the website noted the current unemployment rate in the United States at 3.6%, with 13.1 million new jobs created.

According to the White House, the website will be updated regularly to reflect recent investments, projects and announcements. Additionally, later this month, a second installment of the Investing in America tour will take place with members of the Biden Administration.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Transportation (DOT); Environmental Controls; Funding; Green Infrastructure; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Sustainability

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