June 30, 2017 1:15 PM, EDT

US DOT Revamps Infrastructure Grants

U.S. DOT Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

State transportation authorities that sought funding for freight infrastructure grants will need to reapply for the federal funding availability, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced June 29.

The FASTLANE freight grants established by a 2015 highway law have been renamed Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grants in an effort to incentivize private sector funding in projects. These INFRA grants will be “using innovative approaches to improve the necessary processes for building significant projects,” DOT explained on June 29.

The new grants program will target myriad projects. For large projects, the grant must be at least $25 million, and for small projects, the grant must be at least $5 million, according to the DOT announcement. For each fiscal year, 10% of funding availability will be aimed at smaller projects.

“The president and the department are committed to revitalizing, repairing and rebuilding America’s aging infrastructure,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said. “By ensuring the right incentives, projects selected under this program will be better able to make significant, long-term improvements to America’s transportation infrastructure.”

Earlier this year, Chao emphasized before a Senate committee that the recipients of FASTLANE grants would be announced shortly.

The department’s notice of funding opportunity will remain open for the next four months. Agencies and authorities that had sought FASTLANE grants and choose to reapply for the INFRA grants must specify how their projects meet the new guidelines. The department indicated that “an application that proposes a 20% federal share will be more competitive than an otherwise identical application proposing 50% federal share.”

Transportation agencies in Idaho, Maryland, Rhode Island and Virginia were seeking grants under the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program. Established in the 2015 FAST Act highway law, FASTLANE was meant assist with freight projects.