Thursday, June 29, 2017

USDOT rebrands FASTLANE grants as INFRA grants

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity in the Federal Register for the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program.

USDOT says INFRA "advances a pre-existing grant program established in the FAST Act of 2015 and utilizes updated criteria to evaluate projects to align them with national and regional economic vitality goals and to leverage additional non-federal funding."

The INFRA program will make approximately $1.5 billion available to projects "in line with the administration's principles to help rebuild" infrastructure. The program also aims to increase total investment by state, local and private partners.

USDOT says the new program will promote innovative safety solutions and target performance and accountability in project delivery and operations.

"Under the INFRA program, projects that use innovative approaches to make each the federal dollar go further and encourage more parties to put skin in the game through higher leverage, are willing implement innovative approaches to permitting and project delivery, and project sponsors willing to measure their performance and hold themselves accountable will all find something to like," USDOT wrote about the rebranded program.

The department continued, "The eligible costs, project types, cost share, project sizes and other requirements defined by the statute have not changed. The program still focuses on projects that generate national or regional economic, mobility and safety benefits."

The INFRA grant program preserves the statutory requirement in the FAST Act to award at least 25 percent of funding for rural projects.

INFRA grants may be used to fund a variety of components of an infrastructure project, however, the Department is specifically focused on projects in which the local sponsor is significantly invested and is positioned to proceed rapidly to construction. Eligible INFRA project costs may include: reconstruction, rehabilitation, acquisition of property (including land related to the project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, equipment acquisition and operational improvements directly related to system performance.

Applicants may resubmit their previous FASTLANE application, but must explain how the project competitively addresses the INFRA Grant criteria.

To see a side-by-side comparison of the INFRA program versus FASTLANE can be downloaded below.