Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced $2.9 billion of funding is now available for major infrastructure projects through a combined Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Combining three major discretionary grant programs into one Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant opportunity reduces the burden for state and local applicants and increases the pipeline of “shovel-worthy” projects that are now possible because of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These investments will create good-paying jobs, grow the economy, reduce emissions, improve safety, make our transportation more sustainable and resilient, and expand transportation options in rural America and other underserved communities, according to the US DOT.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix our outdated infrastructure and invest in major projects for the future of our economy,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “Until now, we had limited ability to make awards beyond a certain level, or to support projects with funding from multiple federal grant programs. Under this approach and with a major infusion of new funding, we have the capacity to green-light more transformational projects that will create good-paying union jobs, grow the economy, and make our transportation system safer and more resilient.”
The National Infrastructure Project Assistance (MEGA) program was created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs. The program will provide grants on a competitive basis to support multijurisdictional or regional projects of significance that may also cut across multiple modes of transportation. Eligible projects could include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail, and public transportation projects of national and regional significance. These could be bridges or tunnels connecting two states; new rail and transit lines that improve equity and reduce emissions; and freight hubs integrating ship, train, and truck traffic while improving environmental justice. The US DOT will award 50% of funding to projects greater than $500 million in cost, and 50% to projects greater than $100 million but less than $500 million in cost. The program will receive up to $1 billion this year alone and be able to provide multi-year funding to projects.
The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program is an existing competitive program that will see a more than 50% increase in this year’s funding due to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These grants advance the Administration’s priorities of rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating jobs by funding highway, multimodal freight, and rail projects that position America to win the 21st century. Projects will improve safety, generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, enhance resiliency, and hold the greatest promise to eliminate supply chain bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements. Last year, U.S. DOT received over $10 billion of project applications, but could only fund around $1 billion of projects. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides approximately $8 billion for INFRA over five years, of which approximately $1.55 billion will be made available through this NOFO.
The Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (RURAL) was created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and will support projects to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas 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. Eligible projects for Rural grants include highway, bridge, and tunnel projects that help improve freight, safety, and provide or increase access to an agricultural, commercial, energy, or transportation facilities that support the economy of a rural area. This year alone, the US DOT will award up to $300 million in grants through the rural program — part of the $2 billion included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law over five years.
Putting these three programs under a single NOFO makes it easier for communities to apply to one, two, or three major discretionary grant programs with a single application and common set of criteria. The Department will make awards under the three grant programs consistent with each grant program’s statutory language and will focus on supporting projects that improve safety, economic competitiveness, equity, and climate and sustainability. Also, a single solicitation will also help the Department get a more comprehensive view of projects in development nationwide. The three programs under this combined NOFO will continue to receive support from the US DOT, including the rural-focused ROUTES program team as well as the Build America Bureau.
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