The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is now accepting infrastructure project applications for up to $5.575 billion in funding from three major discretionary grant programs. Applications are being solicited together under a single Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant program, according to the Department.
The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 21, 2023.
The USDOT in March 2022 piloted the combined NOFO for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega); Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA); and Rural Surface Transportation Grant (Rural) programs. The aim, it said, was “to make it easier for communities to apply to one, two or three major discretionary grant programs with a single application and a common set of criteria.” Following “overwhelmingly positive feedback,” the Department on June 27 reported deciding to continue with a combined NOFO for the 2023 application cycle. The combined application will also help the Department assist project sponsors match projects with the most appropriate grant program, it noted.
Available funding for 2023 includes:
- $1.8 billion for Mega: This program supports “large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and are likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits,” according to USDOT. Eligible projects could include freight, port, passenger rail, public transportation, bridge and highway projects “of national or regional significance.” USDOT noted that per the law, 50% of funds are available for projects above $500 million in total cost, and 50% are available for projects between $100 million and $500 million in total cost.
- $3.1 billion for INFRA: According to USDOT, this program awards competitive grants to multimodal freight and highway projects “of national or regional significance to improve the safety, accessibility, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas.” The eligible projects, it said, “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.”
- $675 million for Rural: This program backs projects that “improve and expand our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas in order 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,” USDOT reported. Eligible are highway, bridge and tunnel projects that the Department said “help improve freight, safety, and provide or increase access to agricultural, commercial, energy or transportation facilities that support the economy of a rural area.” According to USDOT, 90% of rural funding must be awarded in $25 million or greater amounts.
USDOT in 2022 awarded $1.5 billion through the INFRA program; nearly $1.2 billion from the Mega program; and $274 million for the Rural program.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes available up to $5 billion for the Mega program; up to $8 billion to the INFRA program; and up to $2 billion for the Rural program, for a combined total of up to $15 billion for FY 2022 through 2026, according to USDOT, which noted that Congress may supplement these amounts through additional annual appropriations. Applications that seek $1 billion or more in Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant funding “will be reviewed and assessed on whether the current project’s estimated costs are reasonable and whether lower cost alternatives exist to keep costs lower, and keep projects on time and on budget,” USDOT said.
“Using a combined process to reduce paperwork, we are pleased to open this new round of funding for applications and look forward to hearing from project sponsors around the country seeking funds to help strengthen their communities through infrastructure,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.