Earlier today, United States Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao announced that DOT has rolled out a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to apply for $900 million in discretionary grant funding through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants Program.
Introduced in 2018, BUILD is the successor to the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. TIGER was established under the Obama administration in 2009. And it largely delivered, providing around $5.5 billion to 421 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and tribal communities. These federal funds leverage money from private sector partners, states, local governments, metropolitan planning organizations and transit agencies. Funding for TIGER grants ensured that economic funding is made available for transportation infrastructure projects, specifically road, rail transit, and port, and that project spending is monitored and transparent.
But in April 2018, the DOT issued a Notice of Funding Opportunity to apply for $1.5 billion in discretionary funding through the BUILD program. Funding for BUILD comes from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which has made available $1.5 billion for National Infrastructure Investments through September 30, 2020. For the initial round of BUILD Transportation grants, DOT said the maximum grant award was $25 million, and no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single State, as specified in the FY 2018 Appropriations Act. It also noted that at least 30% of funds were to be awarded to projects located in rural areas.
DOT said today that Fiscal Year 2019 BUILD Transportation grants are for surface transportation infrastructure investments, adding they will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects with a significant local or regional impact, with funding to support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, or intermodal transportation.
“These BUILD Transportation grants will provide needed infrastructure investment to better connect rural and urban communities around our nation,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao in a statement.
Funding for these $900 million in BUILD grants is made available through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019. The maximum grant award is $25 million with no more than $90 million that can be awarded to a single state. DOT said that the deadline to submit a FY 2019 BUILD Transportation Discretionary Grant program application is July 15.
DOT noted that in keeping in line with the White House’s initiatives focused on “rebalancing past under-investment in rural America,” it plans to award up to 50% of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects in rural areas aligning well with selection criteria. This criteria, said DOT, “gives special consideration to projects that emphasize improved access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities in rural areas…[and] includes projects that improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, facilitate economic growth or competitiveness, deploy broadband as part of an eligible transportation project, or promote energy independence.”
When BUILD Transportation grants were first introduced in 2018, the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors said that competitive grant programs provide a funding opportunity for projects that are difficult to fund or do not qualify through traditional funding programs due to their complexity, size, or cost.
“These programs, such as BUILD, provide an invaluable tool for critical freight infrastructure projects, which are often large in scale, crossing multiple jurisdictions and modes,” said Elaine Nessle, CAGTC executive director. “We applaud Congress’ recognition of these important programs…and USDOT’s commitment to making vital freight investments.”