The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has opened $5.57 billion in funding authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for projects of regional or national significance. The funding supports three major discretionary grant programs that involve surface transportation projects designed to strengthen supply chains, spur economic development and improve safety and daily life. Applications for funding are being solicited together under a single opportunity called the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MPDG) program.
“From fixing rural roads that would otherwise have trouble getting federal funding, to addressing some of the largest and most recognizable bridges and tunnels in the country, the funds in these three programs are supporting transformational infrastructure projects across the nation,” said USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “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.”
Available funding includes:
- $1.8 billion for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (Mega) program: The Mega 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. Eligible projects could include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail and public transportation projects of national or regional significance. Per U.S. law, 50 percent of funds are available for projects above $500 million in total cost, and 50 percent are available for projects between $100 million and $500 million in total cost.
- $3.1 billion for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program: The INFRA 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. Eligible projects will improve safety, generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, enhance resiliency and eliminate supply chain bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements.
- $675 million for the Rural Surface Transportation Grant (Rural) program: The Rural program supports projects that improve and expand U.S. 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 agricultural, commercial, energy or transportation facilities that support the economy of a rural area. 90 percent of rural funding must be awarded in $25 million or greater amounts.
In February, USDOT awarded nearly $1.2 billion from the Mega Program for nine projects across the U.S. that will create good-paying jobs, grow the economy strengthen supply chains, improve mobility for residents and make transportation systems safer for all users.
USDOT also awarded $274 million for 12 projects through the Rural grant program and $1.5 billion for 26 projects through the INFRA program.
The IIJA makes available up to $5 billion for the Mega, 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 Fiscal Year 2022 through 2026. Congress may supplement these amounts through additional annual appropriations. Applications which are seeking $1 billion or more in MPDG 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.
In 2022, USDOT piloted the combined Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for these three programs 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 the overwhelmingly positive feedback from that process, USDOT decided to continue with a combined NOFO for the 2023 application cycle. The combined application also helps USDOT proactively assist project sponsors match projects with the most appropriate grant program.
The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 21. Applicants may find the NOFO through USDOT’s website.