DOT announces new round of INFRA grant funding

By LM Staff · June 22, 2020

Late last week, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) said that the White House is planning to put $906 million into 20 projects in 20 states through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

“This Administration is focused on infrastructure improvements and this $906 million in federal funding will improve major highways, bridges, ports, and railroads across the country to better connect our communities, enhance safety, and support economic growth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

DOT officials said that INFRA discretionary grant program is the advancement, or continuation, of a grant program that was formed in the current federal surface transportation reauthorization, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that went into law in 2015. And they added that project applications were evaluated by a team of more than two dozen career staff in the Department and selected based on established criteria to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals.

The program, DOT said, increases the impact of projects by leveraging federal grant funding and incentivizing project sponsors to pursue innovative strategies, including public-private partnerships.

INFRA grant funding requests were in high demand compared to available funds, with DOT evaluating 173 eligible applications from 47 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Roughly $7.4 billion in grant funds were requested, which DOT said is more than eight times of the funding that is available.

Going forward, as per the FAST Act, DOT said that Congress has 60 days to review the DOT’s proposed project awardees, adding that once the 60-day review period is complete DOT can then begin its grant funding obligations.

The proposed 20 projects for grant funding was soundly received by the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors (CAGTC).

“Competitive programs, such as INFRA, are critical to funding large-scale freight infrastructure projects, which are difficult to fund through traditional distribution methods such as formula programs,” said CAGTC Executive Director Elaine Nessle in a statement. “We congratulate our members who were successful in this round of awards. Applicants from across the country requested more than eight times the available funding, demonstrating the need for a robustly funded, freight-specific competitive grant program in future reauthorizations.”

June 22, 2020