USDOT opens $2.9 billion NOFO for three programs under common application

March 24, 2022
Utilizing a common application will allow entities seeking grants the option to apply for one, two or three of the programs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) published a combined Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for three discretionary grant programs that have a combined $2.9 billion in funding available. USDOT explains combining the trio of programs into a single Multimodal Projects Discretionary Grant opportunity “reduces the burden for state and local applicants and increases the pipeline of ‘shovel-worthy’ projects.”

“President [Joe] Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix our outdated infrastructure and invest in major projects for the future of our economy,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Until now, we had limited ability to make awards beyond a certain level, or to support projects with funding from multiple federal grant programs. Under this approach and with a major infusion of new funding, we have the capacity to green-light more transformational projects that will create good-paying union jobs, grow the economy, and make our transportation system safer and more resilient.”

The Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant combines applications for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega), Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) and Rural Surface Transportation Grant (Rural) programs into a common application. The common application gives applicants flexibility in pursuing one, two or all three funding opportunities using the single application.

USDOT says it will make awards under the three grant programs consistent with each grant program’s statutory language and will focus on supporting projects that improve safety, economic competitiveness, equity and climate and sustainability.

Applications are due aby 11:59 p.m. EST on May 23, 2022. While the INFRA program existed prior to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Mega and Rural programs are new under the law and USDOT recommends applicants review previous INFRA applications if they are resubmitting to ensure they adhere to the new common application.

The NOFO can be accessed through this link.

More about the funds under the grant programs

The Mega program will receive up to $1 billion in funding in FY22. The program was established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding programs. The program will provide grants on a competitive basis to support multijurisdictional or regional projects of significance that may also cut across multiple modes of transportation. Eligible projects could include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail and public transportation projects of national and regional significance. These could be bridges or tunnels connecting two states; new rail and transit lines that improve equity and reduce emissions; and freight hubs integrating ship, train and truck traffic while improving environmental justice. USDOT will award 50 percent of funding to projects greater than $500 million in cost and 50 percent to projects greater than $100 million but less than $500 million in cost.

The INFRA program has $1.55 billion available in FY22, which USDOT notes is more than a 50 percent increase in funding compared to FY21. These grants advance the administration’s priorities of rebuilding America’s infrastructure and creating jobs by funding highway, multimodal freight and rail projects that position America to win the 21st century. Projects 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. Last year, USDOT received more than $10 billion of project applications, but could only fund around $1 billion of projects. In FY21, four of the 24 projects awarded funds through the INFRA program had transit elements.

The Rural program has up to $300 million in FY22. USDOT says the program supports projects to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas 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. Eligible projects for Rural grants include highway, bridge and tunnel projects that help improve freight, safety and provide or increase access to an agricultural, commercial, energy or transportation facilities that support the economy of a rural area.

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