The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on Nov. 30 released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the FY 2024 RAISE program, providing $1.5 billion in discretionary grant funding for freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects with “significant local or regional impact.”
The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) application deadline is 11:59 p.m. EST on Feb. 28, 2024, with selections to be announced no later than June 27, 2024. (Scroll down for downloadable NOFO.)
The USDOT reported that the types of projects eligible for RAISE Grants are:
• Capital projects such as:
—Highway, bridge or other road projects eligible under title 23, United States Code.
—Public transportation projects eligible under chapter 53 of title 49, United States Code.
—Passenger and freight rail transportation projects.
—Port infrastructure investments (including inland port infrastructure and land ports of entry).
—The surface transportation components of an airport project eligible for assistance under part B of subtitle VII.
—Projects to replace or rehabilitate a culvert or prevent stormwater runoff for the purpose of improving habitat for aquatic species while advancing the goals of the RAISE program.
• Planning projects—including environmental analysis, equity analysis, community engagement, feasibility studies, benefit cost analysis, and other pre-construction activities—of eligible surface transportation capital projects that will not result in construction with RAISE FY 2024 funding.
RAISE projects are reviewed and evaluated on statutory criteria of safety; environmental sustainability; quality of life; mobility and community connectivity; economic competitiveness; and opportunity, including tourism, state of good repair, partnership and collaboration, and innovation, according to the USDOT, which said project sponsors can be at the state and local levels, including municipalities, Tribal governments, counties, transit agencies, and others.
Half of the RAISE funding will go to projects in rural areas, the USDOT reported, and half will go to projects in urban areas. At least $15 million in funding is guaranteed to go to projects located in Areas of Persistent Poverty or Historically Disadvantaged Communities, and projects located in these areas will be eligible for up to 100% federal cost share, as directed by Congress in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, according to the Department.
The USDOT said it is “encouraging applicants to consider how their projects can address climate change, ensure racial equity, and remove barriers to opportunity.” Additionally, it intends to use the RAISE program to support “lowering costs for household budgets, wealth creation and the creation of good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union, the incorporation of strong labor standards, and training and placement programs, especially registered apprenticeships.”
USDOT added that projects designated “RCN Program Extra” during the new FY 2023 Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program competition and submitted for consideration under the FY 2024 RAISE NOFO “will have a greater opportunity to be advanced during the FY 2024 RAISE evaluation process, as described in the NOFO.”
More than $244 million in FY 2023 RAISE program grants were distributed to 13 freight and passenger rail-related projects in 11 states. Funding went toward Brightline West high-speed intercity passenger rail station construction, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority trolley modernization, Hoosier Southern Railroad track replacement, PortMiami expansion, and highway/rail grade crossing improvements, among other projects.
“Across the country, I have seen firsthand how projects funded by our RAISE program are helping communities realize long-held dreams and well-planned visions for better infrastructure,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we are delivering safer, cleaner infrastructure to communities of every size and in every part of the country, creating a new generation of jobs and helping families build generational wealth in the process.”