Historic Infrastructure Funding Opportunities Open to Local Governments
Editor's note: For updated resources related to the federal infrastructure bill, including current funding opportunities, see our webpage on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
On November 15, 2021, the bipartisan infrastructure bill known as Building a Better America was signed into law. This bill invests over $400 billion over five years to repair roads and bridges and support major transportation projects.
Building a Better America provides for several different funding mechanisms. Some of it will be provided to states while other funding is available through a competitive grant process. The White House released a 465-page guidebook that contains information about the thirteen areas of funding with information on where and how to apply for the different programs. When necessary, the White House will publish subsequent versions of the guide with any updated details and deadlines.
Building a Better America funding has been broken down into the following program areas:
- Roads, bridges, and major projects
- Passenger and freight rail
- Public transportation
- Airports and Federal Aviation Administration facilities
- Ports and waterways
- Electric vehicles, buses, and ferries
- Climate, Energy, and the Environment
- Clean energy and power
- Environmental remediation
- Other Programs
- Regional commission programs
- Department of Commerce, Agriculture, and Energy programs
- Departments of Health and Human Services and Interior programs
- Department of Transportation programs
- Environmental Protection Agency programs
- Solid waste management and recycling
The White House has also published a fact sheet that contains 25 competitive grant opportunities for local governments. Some of these competitive grants are already open and have application deadlines. Many others will open during the first quarter of 2022, while still more will open later in 2022. It is imperative that local governments wanting to apply begin planning now. If your agency has not already registered with Grants.gov (the application portal for federal grants), note that registration takes two to four weeks to complete and is the first step in the process.
This funding program is currently open and taking applications: Rebuilding American Infrastructure Sustainably and Equitably (RAISE) Grants. RAISE offers $7.5 billion for transportation infrastructure projects, including road, rail, transit, and other surface transportation of local and/or regional significance. Transportation projects will be selected based on safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, state of good repair, partnerships, and innovation. Local governments interested in funding should consult the Notice of Funding Opportunity for how to apply. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on April 15, 2022.
Grant opportunities: First quarter of 2022
These grant programs are not currently open but are projected to be in the first quarter of this year (i.e., through March 2022).
Port Infrastructure Development Grants includes $2 billion in grants to fund modernization and expansion of U.S. ports to remove supply chain bottlenecks, ensure long-term competitiveness, resilience, and sustainability while reducing impacts to the environment and neighboring communities.
Bus and Bus Facilities Grants includes $2 billion in grants to replace, rehabilitate, purchase, or lease buses and bus-related equipment and to rehabilitate, purchase, construct, or lease bus-related facilities — as well as capital funding for low- or no-emissions bus projects.
The National Infrastructure Project Assistance (also known as “Megaprojects” or MEGA) offers $5 billion in grants for multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional projects of regional or national significance. Communities wishing to complete large, critical projects that would otherwise be unachievable without external assistance are eligible to apply for funding. Information is not currently available on the Department of Transportation (DOT) website, but it should be posted sometime during this month.
The Rural Surface Transportation Grant program offers $2 billion in grants to improve and expand surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas, increase connectivity, improve safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight, and generate regional economic growth. As with the MEGA funding program, the DOT website will publish upcoming details as these are available.
Grant opportunities: Spring 2022 and beyond
These grant programs are projected to open after the first quarter of this year (i.e., after March 2022).
Safe Streets and Roads for All includes $5 billion in grants for local and tribal governments exclusively to support their efforts to advance “vision zero” plans and other complete streets improvements to reduce crashes and fatalities, especially for cyclists and pedestrians. Keep an eye on the DOT website for upcoming details.
The ReConnect Loan and Grant Program offers $2 billion in loans and grants for projects that provide broadband in rural areas. This is an existing program made available through the Department of Agriculture. The current application window ends February 22, 2022, but the next grant application window opens in the third quarter of 2022.
The Middle Mile Grants Program includes $1 billion in grants through the U.S. Department of Commerce for the construction, improvement, or acquisition of middle mile broadband infrastructure. Applications are expected to open during the second quarter of 2022 and information will be available on the department’s website.
The State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program offers $1 billion in grants to address cybersecurity risks and threats to information systems that state and local governments own or operate. Applications will likely open during the third quarter of 2022. As with the Middle Mile Grants Program, information on this grant opportunity will be posted by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
How Local Governments Can Prepare
The White House has encouraged local governments to begin planning for the application process across their departments, as well as coordinating application efforts with their metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs).
As part of this planning, a local government should:
- Prioritize your community’s capital needs and develop a project pipeline by taking time to think about the projects previously considered impossible due to lack of funding or regional coordination. This is a once-in-a-generation funding opportunity that will require bold, inclusive thinking.
- Use the forthcoming Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook to identify federal funding streams to target.
- Ensure all transit, railway, road, highway, and bridge projects are a part of your MPO’s Transportation Improvement Plan.
- Begin mapping sites for electric vehicle charging stations and alternative fuel sites.
- Make an inventory and map of the lead pipes in your jurisdiction. Read through the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan for additional federal resources for this effort.
- Work with your state’s broadband agency to ensure your jurisdiction’s or your region’s needs are appropriately mapped and inventoried.
- Establish relationships with the regional offices for key federal agencies that can help direct you to resources and provide technical assistance.
Additionally, the White House will be offering an Infrastructure School webinar series every Tuesday and Thursday over the next several weeks to give local governments an in-depth look at the funding opportunities available for the various infrastructure program areas. Local governments should plan to register for the appropriate webinars in order to take full advantage of these once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunities.
Registration is currently open for the following program areas webinars (all webinars are from 1 – 2 PM Pacific):
- Ports and Waterways: Tuesday, February 15
- Airports: Thursday, February 17
- Electric Vehicles: Tuesday, February 22
- Public Transportation: Thursday, February 24
- Railroads: Tuesday, February 28
Registration for other webinars will be open soon:
- Roads, Bridges, and Major Projects: Thursday, March 3
- Safety: Tuesday, March 8
- Clean Energy and Power: Thursday, March 10
- Water: Tuesday, March 15
- Resilience: Thursday, March 17
- Environmental Remediation: Tuesday, March 22
- Broadband: Thursday, March 24
For more information about grant opportunities and to sign up for updates, visit Building a Better America.
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