On November 12, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao announced $900 million in grant funding was awarded to 55 projects in 35 states through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) discretionary grant program. BUILD grants support surface transportation infrastructure projects with significant local or regional impacts, including funding for roads, bridges, transit, rail and ports.
Established under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-141), this is the second year of the BUILD program, which replaced the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant program. While BUILD is similar to its predecessor, it has a renewed focus on rural transportation infrastructure projects. In the grant announcement, Secretary Chao highlighted the program’s emphasis on rural infrastructure investments, noting that 50 percent of BUILD funding went to rural projects. Of the 55 awards, 18 went directly to county applicants or county projects.
As leaders of the nation’s transportation system, BUILD grants help counties improve critical transportation infrastructure to foster safe and thriving communities. Counties own and operate 45 percent of all public roads (compared to the 32 percent of public roads owned by cities and townships, 19 percent by states, and 3 percent by the federal government) and 38 percent of the nation’s bridge inventory. We are also involved with a third of the nation’s public airports and 78 percent of public transit systems.
NACo will continue to work with lawmakers and the administration to ensure counties have direct access to federal funding streams and grant programs, like BUILD, that support local infrastructure priorities.