The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice of funding opportunity on December 15 offering $1.5 billion via the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or RAISE discretionary grant program for fiscal year 2023. The deadline for grant applications is February 28, 2023, with grant winners announced in June 2023.
[Above photo by USDOT]
USDOT noted in a statement that RAISE discretionary grants help project sponsors at the state and local levels – including municipalities, tribal governments, counties, and others – complete critical freight and passenger transportation projects. The agency issued $2.2 billion in RAISE grants during FY 2022 and nearly $1 billion for FY 2021.
USDOT noted that RAISE eligibility requirements allow sponsors to obtain funding for projects that are harder to support through other USDOT grant programs. Meanwhile, the RAISE program dedicates half of its grants to rural projects, with the other half supporting urban projects.
Formerly known as the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development or BUILD program under the Trump administration and the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery or TIGER program during the Obama administration, USDOT considers projects for RAISE funding based on “merit criteria.”
That criterion includes safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life and economic competitiveness, state of good repair, innovation, plus an array of “partnership” factors. Within those criteria, USDOT prioritizes projects that can demonstrate improvements to racial equity, reduce impacts of climate change, and create good-paying jobs.
The agency also intends to use the RAISE program to “support wealth creation and the creation of good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union, the incorporation of strong labor standards, and training and placement programs, especially registered apprenticeships.”
USDOT also noted that RAISE dedicates at least $15 million to support projects located in “Areas of Persistent Poverty” or “Historically Disadvantaged Communities,” with projects located in these areas will be eligible for up to 100 percent federal cost share, as directed by Congress in $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021.
As was the case for 2022, USDOT is encouraging RAISE applicants to consider how their projects can address climate change, ensure racial equity, and remove barriers to opportunity.
Additionally, USDOT said projects designated “Reconnecting Extra” during the new FY 2022 Reconnecting Communities Program competition and submitted for consideration for FY 2023 RAISE grants would have a greater advancement opportunity during the FY 2023 RAISE evaluation process.