USDOT Announces $1 Billion Funding Notice for Infrastructure Grants

Road construction
Construction on an Indiana road. (Indiana Department of Transportation)

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Transportation agencies aiming to improve connectivity along highways may apply for infrastructure grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

An official Notice of Funding Opportunity outlined the requirements for qualifying for a fiscal 2020 Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, grant, for which $1 billion has been allocated.

The grants are meant for planning and investing in highway projects, as well as for projects related to bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal connectivity in commercial and passenger transportation.

The maximum award will be $25 million, while a state may not receive more than $100 million in such grants. The department will award half of the grants for projects in rural regions.

Criteria for determining recipients include safety impact, economic vitality, environmental sustainability benefits and innovative advancement.

DOT officials scheduled a webinar for Feb. 25 regarding the BUILD grants and its application process. The deadline to apply for a grant is May 18.



“BUILD grants will upgrade infrastructure across America, making our transportation systems safer and more efficient,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Feb. 19.

Recent recipients of the BUILD grants include a 3-mile portion of U.S. Route 30 in East Canton, Ohio, about 65 miles southeast of Cleveland, which received $18 million. Another recipient included the Board of Commissioners in Ellis County, Kan., which received a $6.5 million grant to reconstruct the intersection of two roads for the purpose of extending a bypass that circumvents the segment of U.S. Route 183 that passes through the city of Hays. U.S. 183 intersects Interstate 70 in Hays, which lies 80 miles south of the Nebraska border.

Additionally, agencies in Pinal County and the city of Coolidge in Arizona were awarded more than $15 million for roadways and railroad crossings that lead to Inland Port Arizona, a 2,700-acre industrial park.

“The administration is targeting BUILD transportation grants to repair, rebuild and revitalize significant infrastructure projects across the country,” the secretary said last year.

The emphasis on rural corridors stems from the administration’s push to highlight infrastructure concerns from states with less densely populated metropolitan regions. In October, Chao announced DOT’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation for Economic Success, or ROUTES, initiative, to focus on rural priorities. It consists of gathering input from the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, the Federal Rail Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration to analyze funding and financing tools to improve connectivity in rural communities.

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For fiscal 2021, DOT is asking Congress to approve $1 billion for both BUILD and Infrastructure For Rebuilding America, or INFRA, grants. According to the administration’s request published Feb. 10, “The budget continues to invest in competitive grant programs that partner with communities to deliver surface transportation projects with significant benefits. ... These [grants] use competitive processes to target resources efficiently and effectively, and DOT will focus on strengthening these processes in 2020.”

Last month, DOT announced a funding opportunity for freight-centric INFRA grants. Agencies looking for a grant must highlight a national and regional economic component. The application deadline is Feb. 25.

“To maximize public benefits from INFRA funds and promote local activity that will provide benefits beyond the INFRA-funded projects, the department seeks projects that allow it to condition funding on specific, measurable outcomes,” according to a notice in the Federal Register.

BUILD grants were previously known as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grants. Since their inception during the Obama administration, the infrastructure grants targeted capital investments in highway projects.

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