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April 13, 2021 1:45 PM, EDT

DOT Rebrands BUILD Program to RAISE, Makes $1 Billion Available

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The U.S. Department of Transportation announced April 13 that $1 billion in funding is available for grants to support infrastructure projects.

The discretionary grant program is known as Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE).

“In communities across the country, there is tremendous need for transportation projects that create high-quality jobs, improve safety, protect our environment and generate equitable economic opportunity for all Americans,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With RAISE grants we are making those needed investments in our communities’ future.”

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg

The program was known as Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) during the Trump administration and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) during the Obama administration.

Projects considered for funding will be evaluated based on criteria such as safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation and partnership. DOT will prioritize projects that demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reductions of climate change impacts and the ability to create jobs.

For this round of funding, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no state can be awarded more than $100 million. Up to $30 million will be awarded to planning grants, including at least $10 million to areas of persistent poverty. DOT defines areas of persistent poverty as counties with 20% or more of the population living in poverty over the 30 years preceding Dec. 20, 2019.

The department also committed to awarding “an equitable amount,” which will not exceed half of the funding, to projects located in urban and rural areas.

According to DOT, this program has awarded approximately $8.93 billion in grants to projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico since 2009. Over the course of the program, some 680 projects have been selected for funding out of about 9,700 applications.

DOT plans to host a series of webinars during the fiscal 2021 RAISE grant application process to provide technical assistance to prospective applicants. The webinars will cover subjects such as how to compete for RAISE grants and preparing a cost-benefit analysis for an application. Applications are due by July 12.

The announcement follows DOT’s Notice of Funding Opportunity regarding Infrastructure For Rebuilding America grants, which was issued Feb. 17. In addition to improving safety, the INFRA grants are meant to spur economic development and create jobs.

READ MORE: DOT Opens Funding Opportunity for $889 Million in INFRA Grants

Similar to the RAISE grants, the INFRA program under the Biden administration includes an emphasis on projects that address climate change and environmental justice. Projects will be assessed on factors such as whether they were planned as part of a comprehensive strategy to address climate change or whether they support practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Other considerations include whether project sponsors have completed equity-focused community outreach and if projects are designed to benefit underserved communities.

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