The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed into law on November 15, 2021, by President Joe Biden to improve the nation’s hard infrastructure and bring forth millions of jobs to underserved communities. This new bill focuses on transportation grants and other competitive grants to make America more competitive and sustainable.
If you are currently in the planning phase and need more information on the available transportation grants, you came to the right place. Read through to discover everything you need to know about the ten transportation grants and how to apply for them.
What Is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?
The infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as IIJA, is a once-in-a-generation bill passed to update the nation’s hard infrastructure. This includes funding for the nation’s waterways, airports, roads, and transportation needs. Of the 1.2 trillion dollars approved for spending, over 35 billion of those dollars will go towards transportation needs.
Building Economic Opportunity
The main goal of this IIJA bill is not only to update our nation’s hard infrastructure but to improve the lives of most underserved communities. These types of projects have the potential to make a more significant impact if and when they hire a diverse workforce.
This means employing black and brown firms to handle the projects entirely. To achieve this, local leaders must be bold in their decisions. Mayors of each community should consider the economic impact of projects on businesses and workers throughout the project’s entire lifecycle.
1. Rebuilding American Infrastructure Sustainably and Equitably (RAISE)
One of the first available transportation grants is the RAISE grant. This competitive grant program provides $7.5 billion in funding for transit, road, and other transportation needs.
Applications submitted to this program will be evaluated on environmental sustainability, state of good repair, safety, and quality of life. Applications will also be assessed for community connectivity and mobility, and the application window opened in the first quarter of this year.
2. Port Infrastructure Development Program Grants
This program funds investment in the expansion and modernization of United States ports to ensure long-term competitiveness, remove bottlenecks, and improve sustainability while reducing their environmental impact.
This program already existed before the passing of the IIJA bill. The main difference between the already existing version and the new one through the IJJA bill is the bill expanded the program’s eligibility.
The goal of this program is to update and strengthen how we move goods, updating our ports to be safer, and equipment charging infrastructure. Applications are set to open in the second quarter of 2022. They will be evaluated based on their reliability, safety, or efficiency of the movement of goods into, within, around, and out of a port.
3. Bus and Bus Facilities Competitive Grants
This program provides capital funding to rehabilitate, replace, lease, or purchase buses and bus-associated equipment. It also includes funding to rehab, construct, lease, or purchase bus facilities for low or no emission bus projects. Applications for this grant opened in the first quarter of 2022 and will span over four years.
4. National Infrastructure Project Assistance
This competitive grant program supports multi-jurisdictional projects of national or regional significance. Eligible applicants include a state or a group of states or a unit of local governments.
Other eligible applicants:
- Metropolitan planning organization
- A political subdivision of a local government or state
- Tribal government
- Multistate corridor organization
Selection criteria include projects that generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, improve safety, and eliminate freight bottlenecks. The period of availability for this grant is four years.
5. Infrastructure for Rebuilding America through Transportation Grants
Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, also known as INFRA, supports rail and highway projects of economic significance. The application requires you to register under grants.gov, and it takes between two to four weeks to complete. May 23, 2022, is the last day to apply for this program.
6. Safe Streets and Roads for All
This new competitive grant program will provide funding exclusively for and directly to local governments to support their efforts in completing street improvements that will reduce fatalities and auto accidents, especially for pedestrians and cyclists. This program is also known as Towards Zero Deaths or Vision Zero. When selecting applications, the Secretary will review to see if your application:
- Ensures investment in the safety needs of underserved communities
- It is likely to eliminate or reduce transportation-related serious injuries or death
- Includes evidence-based strategies or projects
- Demonstrates engagement with a variety of stakeholders, both public and private
The Secretary will also look to see if your application includes low-cost strategies that can improve the safety of those in a wider geographical area. Applications for this program are set to open sometime in May of 2022.
7. Charging and Fueling Infrastructure
This 2.5 billion dollar grant is expected to fund the development of electric vehicle infrastructure and other natural gas fueling infrastructures. This grant is a discretionary grant to the already existing five billion dollar formula program.
8. Clean School Bus Program
This new competitive grant program administered by the Environmental Protection Agency will provide funding to replace school buses with cleaner school buses. The local government will replace all existing school buses with zero or low emission buses.
9. Transportation Grants that are Reconnecting Communities
Several thousand different underserved communities were cut in half or nearly destroyed by a highway. This new one billion dollar program will provide funding to local, metropolitan planning organizations, state, and Tribal governments to improve parks, street grids, or other infrastructure law issues. Applications are expected to open in the second quarter of this year.
10. Rural Surface Transportation Grant
This new competitive grant will expand and improve transportation infrastructure in rural areas, increasing connectivity and improving the reliability of the movement of freight and people. This grant is also intended to generate regional economic growth, and applications opened in the first quarter of 2022.
Selection Criteria for the IIJA Transportation Grants
The selection criteria for each grant vary as some focus on upgrading school buses, and others focus on updating street grids and parks. In general, the Secretary will want to see how your project will improve underserved communities and how they will see if your plan contains low-cost strategies.
Tips for a Successful Application
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s programs are distributed and received by several different federal agencies and across sectors and varying levels of government. Local leaders are strongly encouraged to quickly organize and prepare their plans around their community’s regional priorities.
Tip One: Understand Who Receives Federal Funding
Many of these approved funds won’t go directly to local governments. Instead, they will most likely float over to non-profits, public utilities, metropolitan planning organizations, and state transportation departments. The recipients of this funding will probably come from a mix of jurisdictions, so make sure that your community has ambitious and tangible priorities that will help focus the conversation.
Tip Two: Understand the Funding Flow
Like many government changes, these new and already existing programs ultimately take time to establish and administer. It isn’t easy to pinpoint the exact time when funding will flow, but programs already established will most likely receive funding first. Because these new infrastructure funding opportunities contain so many new programs, it is vital to prioritize already established programs so local leaders can sequence their goals.
Tip Three: Streamline Interactions With Federal Offices
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be distributed through multiple cabinet-level agencies and within specific offices within those cabinet-level agencies. Creating a locally strategic project will most likely involve interacting and working with numerous programs across these offices and agencies.
Tip Four: Coordinate Projects Through a Networked Approach
The Infrastructure bill calls for stimulus command centers to coordinate funding across local communities. This coordinated approach requires staff to accomplish a series of tasks.
These tasks include:
These are necessary to ensure that all projects are streamlined in a coordinated and accomplished way. The key contact for the Department of Transportation is Charles Small. He is the deputy assistant secretary of intergovernmental affairs, and his contact email is [email protected]
Get Help Applying for Transportation Grants
The applications for these transportation grants through the IIJA are open at various times this year. Although the funding flow will vary, especially if the transportation grant program is new, it is best to start applying and preparing for when that time comes.
If your business needs help creating a plan and applying for these various grants, contact us now. We also have a blog full of related information you can use for the other available grants through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.