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DOT Announces New BUILD Discretionary Grant Program

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on April 20 the release of a new transportation infrastructure grant program, which will replace the current Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant program. The new Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program will disburse $1.5 billion for surface transportation infrastructure projects with significant local or regional impacts, including funding for roads, bridges, transit, rail or port support.

According to DOT, the $1.5 billion will come from the recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-141). As with TIGER grants, county governments may apply directly or jointly with other local or state entities, with an application deadline of July 19, 2018. DOT will evaluate BUILD applications on the following merit criteria: safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental protection, state of good repair, innovation, partnerships and additional non-federal revenue for infrastructure investments. The non-federal revenue criterion coincides with the administration’s plan to encourage local and state governments to invest more local funding in projects.  However, unlike some priorities outlined in the President’s Infrastructure Initiative, under the BUILD grant program the federal government will contribute up to 80% of project costs for urban area projects and up to 100% for projects in rural communities.

While there are many similarities to the existing TIGER Grant Program, there are some noteworthy differences. First, BUILD strongly encourages local governments to develop (and in some cases requires) a proven non-federal revenue stream for infrastructure projects. Additionally, the program does not allow new bond issuing to count towards this revenue goal, unless the applicant raises, or commits to raising, new funds to repay the bond. Funding can come from state, local and private sector investors, or other forms of cost sharing, like toll credits, sales and gas tax measures and asset recycling. Another key difference includes allowing rural areas to apply for and use these funds for broadband deployment.

TIGER Grant Program *NEW* BUILD Grant Program

Merit criteria

Primary criteria

  • Safety
  • State of Good Repair
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Quality of Life

Secondary criteria

  • Innovation
  • Partnership

Other criteria

  • Demonstrated Project Readiness
  • Project Costs and Benefits
  • Cost Sharing or Matching

Additional considerations

  • Geographic diversity among recipients

Merit criteria

  • Safety
  • State of Good Repair
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Environmental Protection
  • Quality of Life
  • Innovation
  • Partnership
  • Non-Federal Revenue for Transportation Infrastructure Investment

Other criteria

  • Demonstrated Project Readiness
  • Project Costs and Benefits

Additional considerations

  • Geographic diversity among recipients

For additional explanation of the criteria, please see the BUILD NOFO.

Investing over $120 billion a year, counties play a large role in the development and maintenance of public infrastructure. NACo will continue to work with lawmakers and the administration to ensure counties have direct access to federal funding streams and grant programs to support local infrastructure priorities.

Additional Resources:

  • To read the DOT BUILD announcement, please click here
  • To review the BUILD Frequently Asked Questions, please click here
  • To read more on the differences between BUILD vs. TIGER, please click here
  • To read the Notice of Funding Opportunity in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, please click here
  • To view DOT’s series of webinars on the BUILD application process, please click here (the first webinar will be held May 24 at 2:00-4:00 p.m. EDT)

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