USDOT Announces Streamlined Application Process for Infrastructure Projects

July 6, 2023
Program will increase opportunity for communities seeking funding for projects.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced yesterday that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is now taking applications for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighbors Program.

The streamlined program, which combines two key grant programs created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, will ease the process of applying and increase opportunity for communities seeking funding for projects that address harm from past infrastructure planning decisions, accelerate equitable community revitalization, and improve access to everyday destinations.

“Transportation should never divide communities – its purpose is to connect people to jobs, schools, housing, groceries, family, places of worship, and more. That’s what the Reconnecting Communities program and the Neighborhood Access and Equity program are designed to ensure,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “By combining these two grant programs into a single application, we are making it easier for communities to seek and receive the funding they need to build better, safer, inclusive infrastructure for the future.”

The Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program was established in the infrastructure law to fund community-led projects that mitigate physical barriers to mobility and access to public transportation. The Inflation Reduction Act established the Neighborhood Access and Equity Program that similarly funds projects that remove physical barriers as well as projects to improve walkability and safe, affordable transportation.

Available funding includes:

  • $198 million for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, of which:
    • $148 million is for Capital Construction Grant funds, and
    • $50 million is for Community Planning Grants, including funding for technical assistance.
  • $3.155 billion for the Neighborhood Access and Equity Program, of which the Department expects to award up to:
    • $135 million to Community Planning Grants,
    • $2.57 billion to Capital Construction Grants, and
    • $450 million to Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants, designed to incentivize regions to come together to leverage both federal, state, and regional funding and policies to tackle problems.

Earlier this year, the USDOT awarded $185 million to 45 communities as part of the Reconnecting Communities Program including six Capital Construction grants and 39 Community Planning grants.

The first round of grants funded construction and planning for community-led solutions, including capping interstates with parks, filling in sunken highways to reclaim the land for housing, and creating new crossings through public transportation, bridges, tunnels, and trails.

Later this summer, the USDOT will launch the new Reconnecting Communities Institute to provide communities and potential applicants with technical assistance.

This combined Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) follows a model that the Department established for the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program announced last week, which combines funding opportunities for the Mega, Rural, and INFRA grant programs.

Last year, the DOT piloted the combined NOFO for these three programs to make it easier for communities to apply to one, two, or three major discretionary grant programs with a single application and a common set of criteria.

This program is covered under President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which sets the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities.


Source: U.S. Department of Transportation