April 14, 2021
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The U.S. Department of Transportation is seeking applicants for $889 million worth of fiscal year 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America or INFRA grants.

[Above photo by the USDOT.]

The FY 2021 INFRA notice of funding opportunity – which will remain open through March 19 – also creates an “INFRA Extra” program, which will identify competitive INFRA applicants who do not receive an INFRA award and authorize them to seek a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act or TIFIA loan up to 49 percent of their project cost.

The USDOT noted in a statement that is plans to focus on funding projects that address climate change and environmental justice via this round of INFRA grants.

Photo by Caltrans

USDOT said it would evaluate project applications on whether they are part of a “comprehensive strategy” to address climate change and whether they support strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as deploying zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, encouraging modal shifts, or reducing vehicle-miles-traveled.

Racial equity is another selection criterion, USDOT noted, to the extent that projects engage in equity-focused community outreach and seek to improve connections to underserved communities to reduce barriers to opportunity.

USDOT added that it would also consider whether a project applicant is in a federally designated community development zone, including qualified Opportunity Zones, Empowerment Zones, Promise Zones, or Choice Neighborhoods.

The USDOT added that it would also rate projects seeking grants via this round of INFRA funding on the extent “that they apply innovative technology, delivery, or financing methods with proven outcomes to deliver projects in a cost-effective manner.”

Previous INFRA funding guidelines still apply, USDOT noted. For a large project, the INFRA grant must be at least $25 million. For a small project, the grant must be at least $5 million. Under statutory requirements, 10 percent of available funds are reserved for small projects with the USDOT awarding at least 25 percent of such INFRA funds to rural projects.

editor@aashto.org

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