Counties directly eligible for $5.2 billion in competitive transportation grants

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Jessica Jennings

Legislative Director – Transportation | Rural Action Caucus
Charlotte Mitchell

Charlotte Mitchell

Legislative Assistant

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Key Takeaways

On March 25, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the availability of $5.2 billion in competitive funding through the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Opportunity (MPDG), a package of three major grant programs – Mega grants, Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight & Highway Projects (INFRA) grants and Rural Surface Transportation Grants (Rural) – authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL)

Counties are directly eligible to apply to USDOT by the deadline on May 6, 2024. MPDG combines funding for Fiscal Years 2025 and 2026 and has a broad range of eligible surface transportation activities that are outlined below. 

In response to NACo feedback, USDOT continues to offer Mega, INFRA and Rural grants through a single notice of funding, allowing counties to apply using one application. Based on applications, agency reviewers determine which program is the most suitable to fund an eligible project, decreasing the considerable frontend investment required locally to find the right federal program and prepare multiple competitive applications.  

Counties own and operate 45 percent of public roads and 38 percent of bridges and directly support over one-third of the nation’s public airports and transit systems. As intergovernmental partners, counties value federal funding opportunities like the MPDG that help us meet our vast public infrastructure responsibilities. Learn more about the opportunity here.

The information below outlines the programs covered by the MPDG opportunity, though it is important to read the NOFO carefully, noting that each program has its own minimum and maximum awards, restrictions and eligibilities. Both INFRA and Rural Grants define a rural area as "an area outside an Urbanized Area with a population of over 200,000." 

Mega Grants

  • Funding Level: $1.7 billion
  • Federal share: 60 percent 
    • Up to 80 percent with other federal assistance
  • Eligible projects:
    • Highway or bridge project on the National Multimodal Freight Network (NMFN), National Highway Freight Network (NHFN) or National Highway System (NHS)
    • Freight intermodal or rail project with public benefit 
    • Grade separation or elimination project
    • Intercity passenger rail project 
    • Public transportation project eligible for federal funding and part of any of the project types described above

INFRA Grants

  • Funding level: $2.7 billion
  • Annual set-asides: 
    • $150 million for an INFRA Leverage Pilot Program that funds projects where applicants have proposed local matches of more than 50 percent
      • No less than 10 percent of pilot funds will be awarded to small projects
      • No less than 25 percent will be awarded to rural projects 
  • Federal share: 60 percent 
    • Up to 80 percent with other federal assistance
    • Certain states have higher federal shares based on nontaxable land - see NOFO Section C.4.ii
  • Eligible projects:
    • NMFN highway, bridge, or freight project 
    • NHFN highway freight project 
    • NHS highway or bridge project 
    • Freight intermodal, rail, or surface transportation project in the boundaries of a public or private freight rail, water, or intermodal facility necessary to facilitate direct intermodal interchange, transfer, or access to the facility 
    • Grade separation project 
    • Wildlife crossing project 
    • Marine highway project for corridors functionally connected to the NHFN and when likely to reduce road mobile source emissions 

Rural Grants

  • Funding level: $780 million
  • Annual set-asides: 
    • No more than 10 percent for projects less than $25 million 
    • 25 percent of total program funding to complete designated routes on the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS)
    • 15 percent of total program funding for states with higher-than-average rural roadway lane departure fatalities
  • Federal share: 80 percent 
    • Up to 100 percent for projects on the ADHS and Denali Access projects
    • Up to 100 percent with other other federal assistance 
  • Eligible projects
    • Highway, bridge, or tunnel project eligible under the National Highway Performance Program, Surface Transportation Block Grant, or Tribal Transportation Program 
    • Highway freight project eligible under National Highway Freight Program
    • Highway safety improvement project, including a project to improve a high-risk rural road 
    • Project on a public highway or bridge that facilitates access to an agricultural, commercial, energy, or intermodal facility that supports a rural economy
    • Project to develop, establish, or maintain an integrated mobility management system, a transportation demand management system, or on demand mobility services

MPDG Webinars

USDOT has hosted multiple MPDG webinars. View the recorded webinars here.

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