The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the RAISE program, providing $1.5 billion in FY 2022 discretionary grant funding for rail, transit, road and port infrastructure projects.
The application deadline is April 14 at 5 p.m. EDT; selections will be announced no later than Aug. 12. (Download the NOFO below; updated, Feb. 8.)
This is the first discretionary funding program to accept applications as directed by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, USDOT said during the Jan 28 announcement. The available funding for 2022 represents a 50% increase over 2021’s $1.0 billion, which backed 90 projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. Among them: the South Dakota Freight Capacity Expansion Project ($22 million) and the Southwest Chief La Junta Route Restoration Program ($2.8 million).
RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) projects are evaluated on statutory criteria of safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, state of good repair, partnership and innovation. This year, under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 2022 RAISE applications will also be evaluated on the criteria of mobility and community connectivity, according to USDOT. Additionally, projects will be assessed on universal design and accessibility for travelers, and on how they “increase mobility for freight and supply chain efficiency.”
For 2022, USDOT said it 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,” according to the Department. “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.”
Also new this year: At least $75 million will be awarded to planning projects. In addition, at least $15 million in funding is guaranteed for 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% federal share of funding, specifically those in rural communities, Areas of Persistent Poverty and Historically Disadvantaged Communities. USDOT has launched a tool on its website to help applicants determine if their project location is considered a Historically Disadvantaged Community.
Finally, the evaluation process has been updated for 2022 to provide more explicit detail to applicants, USDOT reported.
“The RAISE program helps communities large and small fix and modernize their infrastructure,” USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “This year, thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can support more projects than ever, and help make our transportation system safer, more accessible and more sustainable for people across the country.”