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USDOT Streamlines Infrastructure Project Application Process

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced last week that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is now accepting applications for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighbors Program. The newly streamlined program combines two grant programs established in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

Its aim is to simplify the application process and enhance opportunities for communities seeking funding for projects that address the negative consequences of previous infrastructure planning decisions, expedite fair community revitalization, and improve access to everyday destinations. "Transportation should never be a force that divides communities; its purpose is to unite people by connecting them to jobs, schools, housing, groceries, family, places of worship, and more. The Reconnecting Communities program and the Neighborhood Access and Equity program are designed to ensure just that. By consolidating these two grant programs into a single application, we are facilitating the process for communities to pursue and receive the necessary funding to construct better, safer, and more inclusive infrastructure for the future." said Secretary Buttigieg.

As part of the infrastructure law, The Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, aims to financially support community-led projects that mitigate physical barriers to mobility and access to public transportation. Similarly, the Inflation Reduction Act introduced the Neighborhood Access and Equity Program, which funds projects that eliminate physical obstacles and improve walkability and affordable, safe transportation.

The available funding includes:

  • $198 million for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, allocated as follows:

    • $148 million for Capital Construction Grant funds.

    • $50 million for Community Planning Grants, including funding for technical assistance.

  • $3.155 billion for the Neighborhood Access and Equity Program, with the Department expecting to distribute up to:

    • $135 million for Community Planning Grants.

    • $2.57 billion for Capital Construction Grants.

    • $450 million for Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants, intended to incentivize regions to collaborate and leverage federal, state, and regional funding and policies to address issues.

Earlier this year, the USDOT awarded $185 million to 45 communities as part of the Reconnecting Communities Program. This included six Capital Construction grants and 39 Community Planning grants. The initial round of grants supported construction and planning for community-driven solutions, such as converting interstates into parks, repurposing sunken highways for housing, and creating new crossings through public transportation, bridges, tunnels, and trails.

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