USDOT Launches $1 Billion Program to Reconnect Neighborhoods

July 1, 2022

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has opened the application process for grants from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) program that aims to restore neighborhood links to workplaces, schools, and other resources that had been severed by old highways, railways, and other infrastructure.

On June 30th, the USDOT began taking applications for the IIJA Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program.

The deadline for applications is Oct. 13.

The initial year’s allotment will be $195 million. Of that, $50 million will be set aside for planning grants and technical assistance; the other $145 million will go for capital construction grants.

USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters in a June 29 briefing to preview the program, “Unlike a lot of other policy mistakes or problems [an infrastructure barrier] is something that can’t be as easily reversed." 

Buttigieg noted that often an infrastructure project "by design, lasts for decades or even centuries, that is serving to divide, when the whole point of transportation is to connect.”

USDOT officials acknowledge that $195 million per year will only stretch so far. "We know there's a huge demand for this program," said Christopher Coes, USDOT assistant secretary for transportation policy.

He said USDOT is encouraging recommended that states, cities and other applicants to use the new pilot program funding "as a catalyst and leveraging point" and combine it with dollars from other USDOT programs and those from other federal agencies.

USDOT said it “anticipates that capital construction grants may range from $5 million to $100 million.” Coes said the minimum construction grant is $5 million.

He noted that under the IIJA's requirements, USDOT may only provide up to 50% of a project's costs. Given those limitations, Coes said that for construction grants, USDOT is "looking at...three to 15 projects" per year.

Besides states and localities, applicants can include metropolitan planning organizations and nonprofits.

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Source: USDOT