U.S. Government Opens $1.5 Billion Infrastructure Grant Program
Biden has made rebuilding U.S. infrastructure a key part of his domestic agenda. The department will evaluate proposals on safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, partnership and innovation, mobility and community connectivity.
The U.S. Transportation Department on Friday said it was opening a $1.5 billion grant program for a wide range of infrastructure projects. In November, the department awarded 90 projects in 47 states a total of $1 billion.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the funds will “support more projects than ever, and help make our transportation system safer, more accessible, and more sustainable for people across the country.”
Under the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by President Joe Biden, the Transportation Department will receive $660 billion over five years, including $210.5 billion to be awarded in competitive grants. Of that $71 billion is for new grant programs.
Buttigieg will be in Kansas Friday to discuss the new grant program. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club say the U.S. must do more than just rebuild existing roads and bridges but must also reduce the number of single-passenger vehicles and dramatically improve public transit.
The grants awarded under the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) last year went to rebuild roads and add rail lines — and to create new green space, trails, bike lanes and safer streets for pedestrians as well as dedicated bus lanes and dock replacements.
Seattle received $20 million to reconstruct a 1.1-mile road segment and add a bike lane. Washington County, Oregon received $12.2 million for a 15-mile trail.
Charlotte, North Carolina received $15 million to construct a new multimodal transit center and New Orleans won $18.5 million to improve transit fare collection.
This is the first discretionary funding program to accept applications as directed by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The $1.5 billion in available funding for 2022 represents a 50 percent increase in available funds compared to last year when applicants requested $10 in funding for every $1 available. In 2021, RAISE funded 90 projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Guam.
RAISE projects are rigorously reviewed and selected based on merit. Projects will be evaluated on statutory criteria of safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, state of good repair, partnership and innovation. New this year, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 2022 RAISE applications will also be evaluated on the criteria of mobility and community connectivity. The Department will assess projects for universal design and accessibility for travelers, as well as consider how proposals increase mobility for freight and supply chain efficiency.
At least $15 million in funding is guaranteed to go towards projects located in Areas of Persistent Poverty or Historically Disadvantaged Communities. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, RAISE expands the number of communities eligible for 100 percent federal share of funding, specifically those in rural communities, Areas of Persistent Poverty, and Historically Disadvantaged Communities. To help reach this goal, the Department has launched a tool that will allow applicants to determine if their project location is considered as a Historically Disadvantaged Community.
As was the case last year, the Department is encouraging applicants to consider how their projects can address climate change, ensure racial equity, and remove barriers to opportunity.
This year the Department is also encouraging applicants to consider how their projects can create workforce development opportunities. Applicants can be more competitive in the process if they are creating jobs with free and fair choice to join a union and good labor standards, creating jobs that underserved communities can access, or are supporting worker opportunities and training. Applicants are also encouraged to utilize registered apprenticeship and local and economic hire agreements. The RAISE program is one way the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law acts on President Biden’s promise to bring good-paying jobs to local communities.
Applications for the new grants are due by April, with awards to be announced by August.