USDOT: An Additional $24MM for RIA Program Projects

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) on April 27 announced that its Build America Bureau will add $24 million in grants to the Regional Infrastructure Accelerators (RIA) program, bringing the total investment to $34 million to “expedite delivery of transportation infrastructure projects at the local and regional levels.”

According to USDOT, the Bureau issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to solicit applications for grants to designate Accelerators that will “serve defined geographic areas, provide technical resources, and fund planning and development activities to expedite project delivery through the Bureau’s loan programs and other innovative financing and delivery methods, including public-private partnerships.”

The Bureau previously awarded $10 million to 10 Accelerators across the country. The Accelerators, USDOT says, “serve an essential project development role that can focus resources, funding, and expertise to expedite planning, development, and delivery at the local and regional level.” The Accelerators assist in project planning, evaluating innovative financing, accessing technical assistance and best practices, and developing a pipeline of projects ready for investment. The Bureau administers multiple technical assistance programs, including the Accelerators Program, that aim to build capacity at local and regional levels to explore innovative funding, financing and delivery solutions, according to USDOT.

“The Department is pleased to offer more grant funding for communities across the nation to move their transportation projects forward, connecting people to opportunities,” said Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg. “These funds help regions better compete for discretionary grants through implementation of innovative solutions and potentially seek financing to accelerate delivery of those solutions.”

“The 10 current Accelerators across the country have created capacity at local levels to explore effective and efficient solutions that are moving their critical infrastructure projects forward,” said Build America Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian. “We are looking for more regions to build on the success of this program and develop a network of accelerators that can share best practices and take advantage of innovative delivery strategies.”

“The RIA program helped the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) to contribute to a successful federal grant application in Washington for a highway-rail grade separation project, and to begin coordinating public and private sector co-investment in zero emission refueling infrastructure for drayage trucks serving the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma,” said Betz Mayer, Assistant Director, RIA/Program Manager, PNWER. “We’ve also developed a Center of Excellence to help stakeholders in our five-state region better understand the benefits of financing and Public-Private Partnerships (P3) practices for regionally important infrastructure projects.”

According to USDOT, the Build America Bureau “advances investment in transportation infrastructure by lending Federal funds to qualified borrowers; clearing roadblocks for credit worthy projects; and encouraging best practices in project planning, financing, delivery, and operations.” The Bureau, USDOT adds, draws on expertise across the Department to “serve as the point of coordination for states, municipalities, private partners, and other project sponsors seeking Federal financing.” The Bureau administers several technical assistance grant programs, including the Accelerators Program.

More information on the RFI program and the Build America Bureau is available here. The Bureau will host a webinar for interested applicants on May 1, 2023, at 2 p.m. ET. Registration is free, here. Those interested in participating and in need of accommodation may email the request to the address below by Friday, April 28 at 5 p.m.  

Applications are due Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

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