FHWA awards 80 projects grant funding to help strengthen infrastructure against climate change

April 12, 2024
The funding is through the IIJA’s PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program, which funds projects that will strengthen surface transportation systems against extreme weather events.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) awarded nearly $830 million in grants to 80 projects that will help states and local communities save taxpayers money while strengthening surface-transportation systems and making them more resilient to extreme weather events worsened by the climate crisis, flooding, sea-level rise, heat waves and other disasters. The grants are the first of their kind dedicated to transportation infrastructure resilience and were made possible by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost-saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program, which complements PROTECT Formula funding that is already flowing to states for these types of projects. 

President Joe Biden has secured more than $50 billion for climate resilience and adaptation through the IIJA and Inflation Reduction Act and established a National Climate Resilience Framework, which is advancing locally tailored, community-driven climate resilience strategies. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) notes extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change and are causing increasing damage to the U.S. transportation system, which was primarily designed and built before the realities of the current climate. As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the PROTECT Grant Program is funding projects that will strengthen the country’s surface transportation system against extreme weather events, including roads, bridges, highways, public transportation, pedestrian facilities, ports and intercity passenger rail. USDOT says that by increasing the resilience of these assets, the investments will reduce short- and long-term costs by minimizing future needs for maintenance and reconstruction. 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is awarding funding under four different grant types to 80 projects in 37 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands:  

  • Planning Grants: Approximately $45 million will be awarded to 26 projects to help grant recipients develop resilience-improvement plans, resilience planning, predesign and design activities, capacity-building activities and evacuation planning and preparation initiatives.  
  • Resilience Improvement Grants: $621 million will be awarded to 36 projects to enhance the resilience of existing surface-transportation infrastructure by improving drainage, relocating roadways, elevating bridges or incorporating upgrades to allow infrastructure to meet or exceed design standards.  
  • Community Resilience and Evacuation Routes: $45 million will be awarded to 10 projects for improvements to enhance the resilience of evacuation routes or to enhance their capacity and add redundant evacuation routes.  
  • At-risk Coastal Infrastructure: $119 million will be awarded to eight projects to protect, strengthen or relocate coastal highway and non-rail infrastructure.  

The program also will improve equity and further environmental justice by addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities that are often the most vulnerable to hazards. The program encouraged applicants from all levels of government—from local governments and Tribes to state departments of transportation—to apply for PROTECT discretionary-grant funding, which complements the more than $4.3 billion in PROTECT formula funding that is already flowing to states. USDOT notes that consistent with the objectives of the National Climate Resilience Framework, the awards will help these communities across the country become not only more resilient, but also more safe, healthy, equitable, and economically strong. 

"Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, is damaging America’s transportation infrastructure, cutting people off from getting to where they need to go and threatening to raise the cost of goods by disrupting supply chains,” said U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today, through a first-of-its-kind program created by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are awarding nearly $830 million to make transportation infrastructure in 39 states and territories more resilient against climate change so people and supply chains can continue to move safely.” 

“Every community in America knows the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, including increasingly frequent heavy rain and flooding events across the country and sea-level rise that is inundating infrastructure in coastal states,” said FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “This investment from the Biden-Harris Administration will ensure our infrastructure is built to withstand more frequent and unpredictable extreme weather, which is vitally important for people and businesses that rely on roads and bridges being open to keep our economy moving.”  

Transit related project selections in this round of grants include: 

  • Stafford County, Va., will receive more than $10.2 million to re-align a 0.45-mile portion of Brooke Road (SR 608) from Loblolly Lane to Maplewood Drive, a vital transportation route that serves the eastern part of the county and includes access to a commuter rail station. The project will address frequent flooding on portions of the road that becomes impassable for extended periods of time. The roadway runs parallel to Accokeek Creek, a major tributary to the Potomac River. 
  • The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada will receive $750,000 to complete a Resilience Improvement Plan that assesses the vulnerabilities of the region’s highways, major roadways, public transportation system, freight system and anticipated passenger rail through 2050. The plan will help manage risks associated with aging infrastructure against a full range of current and future weather events, including extreme heat and natural disasters. 
  • The New York State Department of Transportation will receive $1.65 million to develop and coordinate emergency response plans for a four-county region in western New York, including Erie, Niagara, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua. The project will examine vulnerabilities around roadway and transit operations, as well as maintenance practices during severe winter snowstorms made more challenging by lake-effect snow. One goal is to identify ways to consistently and proactively communicate with residents about openings, closures, travel conditions and to support emergency responders. 
  • Dallas Area Rapid Transit will receive $950,000 to conduct a comprehensive resilience plan to assess the vulnerabilities of the transportation network and prioritize strategies to make necessary improvements. The project includes a two-year license to test a new flooding software tool that uses historical rainwater and flood information to identify flood-prone areas, develop better evacuation routes and pinpoint areas where stormwater drainage can be improved. 

More information on the PROTECT Program, as well as the full list of grant recipients is available on USDOT’s website