The White House is hosting a series of webinars for implementation stakeholders to provide an in-depth look into the programs contained within the chapters of “A Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
Summaries by Bevin Buchheister, Cara Dougherty, Glenn Grimshaw, and Alex Hsu
Broadband – March 24, 2022
On March 24, the White House hosted the final of its “Infrastructure School” series, which focused on broadband programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Officials from the White House were joined by staff from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utility Service and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss the more than $65 billion in broadband funding available through the IIJA.
An official from the NTIA first highlighted the more than $48 billion in programs that are being overseen by the Administration. The largest of these programs is the $42.45 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, a new formula grant program for states and territories to close the broadband availability gap. Based on maps to be published by the FCC, the program will prioritize connecting unserved locations, then underserved areas with internet speeds less than 100 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload, followed by community anchor institutions. States and territories must ensure the new networks support no less than 100/20 Mbps speeds, and there is a matching requirement of 25 per cent which can be provided by the state or a sub-grantee either in cash or in kind. Sub-grantees under BEAD must offer at least one low-cost plan to reach the poorest households in their communities.
The NTIA speaker also discussed the $2.75 billion in new digital equity programs in the IIJA. The objective of these programs is to provide the skills and technology needed for individuals to engage in the digital economy, with a focus on veterans, individuals earning at or below 150% of the poverty line, aging individuals, incarcerated individuals, those with disabilities, those with a language barrier, racial and ethnic minority groups and those in rural areas. The program will commence with an allocation of $60 million to states to develop digital equity plans over the next year, followed by a $1.44 billion State Capacity Grant formula program and $1.25 billion competitive grant program to assist states with implementing their digital equity plans.
In addition to the BEAD and digital equity programs, the NTIA provided an overview of the middle mile and tribal programs which it is also responsible for administering. The $1 billion Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program is a new competitive grant program to encourage the expansion and extension of middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved areas. The IIJA also provides an additional $2 billion towards the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which provides funding to tribal governments to be used for broadband deployment on tribal lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability and digital inclusion.
An official from the USDA Rural Utility Services then discussed additional funding in the IIJA to support USDA broadband infrastructure programs. The IIJA provided an additional $74 million towards the existing Rural Broadband Loan Program, which funds broadband investments, including construction, maintenance, improvement and expansion projects. The program offers loans and grants towards communities with 20,000 people or less and where at least 50% of the proposed service area is unserved. An additional $1.9 billion was allocated towards the USDA’s Reconnect Loan and Grants Program, which also provides loans and grants (or a combination thereof) towards broadband infrastructure improvements in rural communities. Like the rural broadband loans program, the reconnect program targets communities with less than 20,000 residents, but instead has a focus on communities where at least 90% of the proposed area is unserved. Grants from this program generally require a 25% matching contribution, but there is a set-aside for 100% federal funding.
A spokesperson from the FCC rounded out the broadband infrastructure school session. The official noted that the IIJA tasked the FCC with understanding legacy infrastructure that could have led to digital redlining in the broadband market, and Chairwomen Rosenworcel has established a cross-agency taskforce to prevent digital discrimination. This task force will focus on creating rules and policies to combat digital discrimination and to promote equal access to broadband across the U.S. The FCC has approved a Notice of Inquiry to start these initiatives, and the Taskforce has until November 2023 to complete the task.
The FCC spokesperson then discussed the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a discount of up to $30 per month to households (up to $75 per month on Tribal lands) to improve broadband affordability. Around 10 million households have enrolled, and the FCC recently closed comments on a proposal to develop an outreach grant program and pilot program to ensure public housing tenants are aware of the funding. In addition, to these initiatives, the IIJA tasks the FCC with ensuring accurate maps at the granular level for the roll-out of the BEAD program and with developing a broadband deployment location map to ensure that underserved areas are addressed.
Environmental Remediation – March 22, 2022
On March 22, officials from the White House and U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization and Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Remediation hosted an “Infrastructure School” session focused on environmental remediation. This virtual session provided an in-depth look at new and existing programs authorized and appropriated by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which makes one of the most significant investments in environmental remediation in the country’s history. Speakers discussed how IIJA’s investment will address climate change and legacy pollution.
An official from the Department of the Interior began the conversation by outlining DOI’s spending plans, which include a $16 billion investment in legacy pollution clean-up. This money will be used to plug orphaned wells ($4.7 billion) and reclaim abandoned coal mine lands ($11.3 billion) to ultimately provide significant health and economic benefits to communities, all while addressing environmental impacts from these legacy developments. Specific projects include caping orphaned oil and gas wells, closing dangerous mine shafts, reclaiming unstoppable slops, improving water quality by treating acid mine drainage, and restoring water supplies damaged by mining. The official noted that millions of Americans live within one mile of the hundreds of thousands of orphaned wells and abandoned mine lands (AML) that release methane, a greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to climate change. While the “scale of the problem is daunting,” the official is confident that DOI will help revitalize working families, often in rural and Tribal communities, support reclamation jobs, and eliminate dangerous environmental conditions through federal investments.
Furthermore, DOI will allocate and distribute nearly $725 million annually over the next 15 years, based on states’ and Tribes’ demonstrated need for AML funding. Allocations are determined based on the number of tons of coal historically produced in each state or on Indian lands before August 4, 1977, when the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) was enacted. Whereas the AML program existed before IIJA’s passing, the Orphaned Well Program is a new federal program that will help advance the goals of the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan and the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization. There are now over 100,000 documented orphaned wells that continue to leak methane and other pollutants across the U.S., although the actual number is likely much higher when including unidentified and uncounted wells. DOI is working closely alongside the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission to plug and remediate abandoned well sites. This task, led by DOI, will distribute $1.15 billion for states and Tribes to establish and manage orphaned well plugging and remediation projects. On March 17, the Department of the Interior released draft guidance to states on how to apply for the first $775 million in grant funding available this year.
Next, an official from the Department of Energy expressed support for DOE’s newly established Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, which will help deliver on President Biden’s climate agenda. $20 billion of the IIJA helped to not only create the office but also support clean energy technology demonstration projects in areas including clean hydrogen, carbon capture, grid-scale energy storage, and small modular reactors, for example. The Department of Energy updates its Organizational Chart regularly to reflect its preexisting offices and newly, IIJA-funded offices.
In February, DOE released a Request for Information on the design, construction, and operation of a new facility to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of a full-scale rare earth element (REE) and critical minerals (CM) extraction. The information requested will also help inform a site-selection process that prioritizes environmental justice. Once built, this facility—backed by a $140 million investment from the IIJA—will support American manufacturing jobs and help bolster a domestic supply chain to sustain a future of clean energy technology. The official explained that REEs and CMs are essential materials used in a broad range of technologies that are significant to national security and energy, such as advanced aircraft, wind turbines, electric vehicles (EV), semiconductors, and hydrogen fuel cells.
To close the Environmental Remediation session, an official from the Office of Brownfields & Land Revitalization in the EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management and an official from EPA’s Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation (OSRTI) discussed how IIJA funding encourages redevelopment and helps finance brownfields projects in ways that seemed unattainable prior to the bill’s passing. These investments will help support brownfield revitalization in the country. The official from the Office of Brownfields & Land Revitalization explained how typically the office receives about $90 million annually for states and Tribes to oversee their Brownfields Program. Through the IIJA, EPA’s Brownfields Program will receive a historic $1.5 billion in project grants and $300 million to State and Tribal Response Programs and these investments will transform countless communities—small and large, urban and rural. The funding will be used to perform targeted technical assistance projects that will clean up hundreds of brownfields, assess 18,000 sites, train 3,650/place 2,550 people in environmental jobs, and cultivate healthy, resilient neighborhoods.
|$1.5 BILLION Investment Highlights||2022 & 2023 OFFERINGS*|
|$150 MILLION in|
UP TO $10 MILLION per grant for communities, states, tribes and nonprofits to plan, assess and cleanup sites
No cost share requirementProposals due November 2022 • Projects awarded Summer 2023
|$600 MILLION in|
UP TO $10 MILLION per grant for communities, states, tribes and nonprofits to determine extent of contamination and plan revitalization at brownfield sites
No cost share requirementProposals due November 2022 • Projects awarded Summer 2023
|$160 MILLION in|
UP TO $5 MILLION per grant for communities, states, tribes and nonprofits to cleanup contamination on brownfield sites
No cost share requirementProposals due November 2022 • Projects awarded Summer 2023
|$150 MILLION in|
Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants
UP TO $5 MILLION per grant for existing, high-performing RLF grantees to provide loans and subgrants for the cleanup of contamination and revitalization of brownfield sites
No cost share requirementSupplemental requests from existing grantees due March 2022 Funds awarded August 2022
|$30 MILLION in|
Job Training Grants
UP TO $1 MILLION per grant for communities, states, tribes and nonprofits to develop a job training program that supports revitalization at brownfield sitesProposals due July 2022 • Projects awarded November 2022
|$110 MILLION in|
Technical Assistance, Including Targeted Brownfields Assessments
The largest investment ever in direct contracts and cooperative agreements to provide communities with technical assistance to adapt to a changing climate and remove barriers to safe and sustainable property reuseProjects awarded on a rolling basis • First round of Targeted Brownfields Assessment funds awarded April 2022
|$300 MILLION in|
Cooperative Agreements to State and Tribal Response Programs
$60 MILLION available per year in cooperative agreements for states and tribes to build response program capacity, oversee brownfields cleanups and conduct limited site assessment and cleanup activitiesFY22 requests due May 2022 • Funds awarded November 2022
*Funding amounts and deadlines are tentative and subject to change.
Table Credits: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Brownfields Program (2022).
Resilience – March 17, 2022
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) authorizes roughly $47 billion in funds for a variety of resilience and climate-adaptation programs to address flooding, cyber threats, waste management, wildfires, drought and coastal resilience, ecosystem restoration, and weatherization. On March 17, officials from the White House, Department of the Interior (DOI), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), discussed how state, local, and Tribal governments can take full advantage of IIJA’s funding opportunities to mitigate damage from climate change and strengthen resilience to a range of threats.
An official from DOI first highlighted funding in the IIJA package that will be used to advance programs administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The IIJA will invest $162 million in federal funds to address the drought crisis in the Klamath Basin ecosystem—the region in Oregon and California drained by the Klamath River—and support water resilience and infrastructure. Discussions surrounding the project’s water quality priorities and dam removal procedures involved various nation-to-nation consultations with six Tribes within the basin, as well as virtual meetings with federal and state officials and local stakeholders. The IIJA also provides $50 million for the restoration of the Sagebrush Steppe ecosystem, which covers vast stretches of western North America to protect the ecosystem’s biological, cultural, and economic resources from wildfires. Both the Klamath Basin and Sagebrush Steppe programs will not only address conservation needs but also create jobs in rural America, and their applications are expected to open in July 2022. Next, the IIJA provides $26 million of funding for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP), which will support new and existing jobs across the four-state watershed (New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware). Projects will improve water quality to support wildlife and drinking water, enhance water management for flood damage mitigation, and expand public recreational opportunities, amongst other benefits. Funds for the DRBRP will be distributed through a combination of competitive contracts, Tribal grants and other grants, and co-operative agreements. Applications for the DRBRP opened in February and full proposals were due on March 31, 2022.
Next, an official from USDA’s Farm Production and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) highlighted three main programs that have been enhanced by IIJA’s historic funding levels. First, the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program provides state, local, and Tribal governments with critical opportunities to protect watersheds and vital infrastructure, which benefits communities in each state and territory in the nation. More specifically, local community voices will be included in the planning, designs, and construction of a wide variety of projects to benefit watersheds, stream stabilization, irrigation, and flood control. Second, the Watershed Rehabilitation Program provides technical and financial assistance to revitalize and extend the service life of dams that have been originally constructed with the assistance of NRCS Watershed Programs. It is critical to address challenges that arise from flood control projects and ensure that dams reach their useful lives, and the USDA official believes that “protecting dams means protecting downstream communities.” Lastly, the Emergency Watershed Protection Program offers emergency repair and restoration recovery assistance when sudden watershed impairments occur that threaten life or property, such as burned lands or lands facing the aftermath of serious droughts or floods. The program provides technical and financial assistance to help local communities rebound and recover from damage caused by natural disasters, while also building resiliency to better prepare for future threats.
To wrap up the webinar, an official from FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration discussed the range of IIJA-funded programs the administration will offer. This includes an additional $6.8 billion to continue addressing climate change through mitigation projects and to establish a new Cybersecurity Grant program. The funds complement previous award programs, such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), to which FEMA committed $3.46 billion in August 2021. This total funding represents the largest amount of HMGP funding in a single fiscal year—which was $2.29 billion in FY 05. Additionally, the IIJA appropriated $1 billion for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities BRIC (Program), with $200 million awarded annually in FY 22-26, available to states, local, Tribal, and territorial governments. This funding is in addition to the funding FEMA provides through setting aside up to 6% of the assistance the agency provides following major disaster declarations. FEMA will also provide $3.5 billion through Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Grants, which will assist states, territories, Tribal governments, and local communities in reducing and eliminating the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings and other structures. The FMA grants will be awarded over five years, or $700 million annually in FY 22-26, a sharp increase from the historic $150-200 million the program received each year. Applications for both the BRIC and FMA grant programs FY 22 awards are expected to open no later than September 30, 2022.
Water Funding for Drinking Water, Wastewater, Stormwater and Water Resilience in Western States – March 15, 2022
On March 15, 2022, the White House Infrastructure School hosted a webinar featuring speakers from EPA’s Office of Water and the Department of Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM). EPA speakers discussed how the agency will administer IIJA funds over the next five years that includes $11.7 billion dollars for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program, $11.7 billion for the Clean Water SRF (wastewater and stormwater), $15 billion to replace lead service lines and $10 billion for emerging contaminants. NGA reviewed the EPA programs here.
Speakers from Department of Interior provided an overview of the Bureau of Land Management’s water funding programs that received $8.3 billion from the IIJA to be distributed over the next five years. Information on all the BLM water programs can be found on the White House’s online IIJA guidebook.
The BLM programs are focused on expanding access to clean drinking water, addressing the climate crisis, improving drought resilience and advancing environmental justice for 17 states in the American West. They include: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming. Some programs are also available to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
BLM plans to distribute $1.66 bill per year from 2022-2026, however, these funds are considered “no year funds” that can be expended beyond five-year window wherever needed. About two-thirds of the $8.3 billion in BLM program funds will be open to applications for public funding through Notices of Public Funding Opportunities, NOFO’s. A handful have already been published and are noted below. BLM will issue a steady stream of NOFO’s in 2022 through grants.gov.
Where possible, the IIJA funds will be delivered through existing BLM programs, however, a few new programs have also been created like the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration and Protection Projects ($250 mill); Multi-benefit Projects to Improve Watershed Health ($100 mill); and Watershed Management Projects ($100 mill). For new programs BLM plans to develop criteria and accept public comment before issuing Notices of Funding Opportunity.
Program authorities and funding levels dramatically increased in some existing programs like the Aging Infrastructure Account that received $3.2 billion from the IIJA to address the backlog of repair, rehabilitation and maintenance needs on Reclamation infrastructure assets. Due to a greatly increase funding level, BLM plans to revise the application process and provide more outreach to potential applicants. The Water and Groundwater Storage and Conveyance Program received $1.15 billion from the IIJA with expanded authority to fund Small Water Storage and Groundwater Storage Projects that have storage capacity between 2,000 and 30,000 acre-feet. The Water Recycling Program also received expanded authority and funding through the IIJA. It received $1 billion from the IIJA and new authority to fund large projects defined as projects with a total cost of $500 million or more.
In addition, two other existing programs received funding from the IIJA. Water Desalinization Projects received $250 million, and the application process was open from January 14- March 15, 2022. The Water Smart Grants program received $400 million for competitive grants for small projects that contribute to water supply sustainability, increase drought resilience and provide environmental benefits. There will be three distinct funding opportunities estimated to open in March, April and May 2022. One is open now. Applications for the WaterSMART Small Scale Efficiency Projects are due by April 28, 2022, at 4 p.m. MDT. Here is the NOFO Link. Applicants are eligible for up to $100,000, and total project costs should be $225,000 or less. Eligible applicants include states, Indian Tribes, irrigation districts, or any other organization with water or power delivery authority in the Western United States or territories. Click here to watch a recording of the BLM webinar on eligible applicants and project types, program requirements, and the evaluation criteria this funding opportunity. To schedule a time to talk to program coordinators, click here.
Two BLM water programs funded by the IIJA are not open for public applications: Dam Safety Program and Rural Water Projects. Allocations for these programs are formulated internally for direct federal spending. Under the IIJA, the Dam Safety Program was allocated $500 million to fund repairs on Reclamation dams that reduce risk to people, property, and the environment. The Rural Water Program was allocated $1 billion to fund seven rural water projects that were authorized by an Act of Congress before July 1, 2021.
Clean Energy – March 10, 2022
On March 10, 2022, the White House Infrastructure School hosted a webinar featuring speakers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of the Secretary and Office of Policy. The speakers discussed how the new programs funded by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act (IIJA) will accomplish multiple federal priorities. This webinar focuses on programs that assist in clean power, communities, and manufacturing.
The IIJA provides $62 billion in funding to support 60 new DOE programs and helps expand 12 existing DOE programs. The DOE has also restructured and expanded their Offices to better administer the IIJA funds. These programs address multiple DOE priorities such as expanding clean infrastructure, modernizing existing energy systems, addressing climate change, ensuring communities have equitable access to these technologies and their benefits, and supporting high-quality jobs.
Speakers began by highlighting programs that will support clean energy deployment and energy system modernization. The Building a Better Grid Initiative directs $16 billion in IIJA funds, towards addressing vulnerabilities from weather events and other incidents that may lead to energy outages through a range of grid investments. The Civilian Nuclear Credit Program provides $6 billion to preserve existing US nuclear reactors s that are facing economic challenges. The new program allows for owners and operators of commercial reactors to apply for certification to document if they meet the criteria set out for the program. Once certified, the owners and operators can bid on credits to support their continued operation. The Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of Electric Grid Grants allocates $5 billion towards bolstering transmission resiliency via weatherization technologies, distributed energy resources, hardening measures, and repairing aging systems. The Deployment of Technologies to Enhance Grid Flexibility grant brings a $3 billion expansion to the existing Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program. This funding expansion aims to allow states to invest and install more buildings equipped with demand flexibility capabilities or Smart Grid functions. Other pertinent programs include the Transmission Facilitation Program ($2.5 billion), Energy Improvement in Rural and Remote Areas ($1 billion), and the Maintaining & Enhancing Hydroelectric Incentives ($550 million).
In conjunction with these grants, the DOE Office of Electricity is leading a National Transmission Planning Study to identify the highest priority transmission projects. DOE plans to collaborate with states to identify pathways for large-scale transmission system expansions while addressing resilience, equity, economic needs, and potential constraints.
DOE’s IIJA programs also include funding for technology research and development and demonstration projects, to be administered by the newly created Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. These funds will support the development and deployment of innovative and emerging clean energy technologies. The Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs grant is an $8 million demonstration program to develop at least 4 clean hydrogen hubs. The funding opportunity for this program is expected to be released begin in the summer. The Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program grants $1 billion for clean hydrogen electrolysis to help reduce the cost of hydrogen energy and the Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing Recycling Initiative will grant $500 million to support equipment manufacturing and bolster domestic supply chains.
The IIJA directed $10 billion to programs that will develop and demonstrate carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies. These include the Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs ($3.5 billion), Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program ($2.5 billion), Carbon Capture Large-Scale Pilot Project ($937 million), Carbon Storage Validation and Testing Program ($2.5 million), and Carbon Dioxide Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation program ($2.1 million).
Multiple DOE programs also aim to support households and communities. For example, the long-standing Weatherization Assistance Program received a $3.5 billion increase from the IIJA, and the State Energy Program received a $500 million increase. Grants for Efficiency and Renewable Energy Improvements at Public School Facilities provides $500 million for renewable energy and efficiency at schools, targeting efficient HVAC systems, solar panels, and electric vehicle charging. The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program received a $550 million increase to support clean energy programs in states, regions, territories, and tribes.
DOE provides for a $7 billion investment toward battery technologies with $3 billion directed toward Battery Materials Processing Grants and another $3 billion on Battery Manufacturing and Recycling Grants. A Notice of Intent (NOI) was released February 11, 2022, laying out the departments plans for the program. The Rare Earth Elements Demonstration Facility fund provides $140 million towards the design, construct, and build out for Commercial feasibility, the first if its kind in the US. The Advanced Energy Recycling and Manufacturing, and Recycling fund provides $750 million for advanced energy technology manufacturing projects by small and medium coal companies, applications open next year.
Further details on each of these and other federal infrastructure programs can be found in NGA’s IIJA formula and grant program tracker here.
Safety – March 8, 2022
On March 8, officials from the White House and U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT’s) Office of the Secretary, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Federal Highway Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hosted an “Infrastructure School” session focused on safety. This virtual session provided a comprehensive overview of the wide range of new and existing safety programs included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), from local street measures to enhanced oversight of commercial vehicles.
The first program discussed during the session was the new $5 billion Safe Streets and Roads for All competitive grant program. This program will support USDOT’s recently released National Roadway Safety Strategy, and will allocate funds to states, local governments, tribes and metropolitan planning organizations (or a combination of these) to prevent roadway deaths and injuries across the country. Funding is available for a range of uses, including developing a comprehensive safety action plan, to plan for projects in a safety plan and to carry out projects, such as improved signage, speed management projects, safe pedestrian crossings and addressing alcohol impaired driving. The Notice of Funding Opportunity will be released in May with awards announced at the end of 2022, with an expected allocation of 40% to planning and 60% towards implementation.
Subsequently, an official from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) spoke to the Highway Safety Improvement Program—the largest of the safety programs in the IIJA. Funding for this existing formula grant program increased by 34% as a result of the passage of the IIJA and now totals $15.56 billion over FY22 to FY26. The program is primarily targeted towards highway safety improvement projects, but up to 10% of funding can now be used for other uses such as highway safety education and enforcement. The FHWA also outlined its Railway-Highway Crossings Program, an existing formula program that gives attention to eliminating hazards at railway-highway crossings. Changes to this program in the IIJA include allowing funding to be used to reduce trespassing, an increase in the incentive payment for a state closing an at-grade railway crossing (from $75,000 to $100,000) and an increase in the federal share to 100%. This program is separate to the new Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Crossing Elimination Grants program (see Passenger and freight rail infrastructure school summary below). During the Q&A section of the webinar, the FHWA underlined that 2.5% of planning funding allocated to states and metropolitan planning organizations must be spent on activities related to Complete Streets, which are focused on the accommodation of all users of the transportation system (pedestrians, cyclists and motorists).
An official from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) then presented an overview of its largest program—the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program. This $2.4 billion measure offers assistance to states to help regulate over 600,000 motor carriers to ensure they are operating safely through roadside inspections, investigations and safety audits of commercial motor vehicles. The program also comprises a human trafficking element, with states at the southern border receiving additional funding for training and enforcement purposes. The FMCSA official also discussed its Commercial Driver’s License Implementation Program, which assists states with upgrading IT systems, reducing wait times and promoting consistent standards for driver training. The FMCSA’s new Commercial Motor Vehicle Enforcement Training and Support Grant Program was also raised, which will allow community colleges to train personnel to conduct commercial motor vehicle enforcement activities, as well as its High Priority Programs (Commercial Motor Vehicle and Innovative Technology Deployment), which have a Notice of Funding Opportunity open until March 31.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) official provided an overview of the agency’s role and noted that it had received around a 50% increase in its budget as a result of the passage of the IIJA. NHTSA’s formula Highway Safety Programs and National Priority Safety Programs provide funding to states, territories and tribes to implement data-driven safety initiatives, including separate grant programs addressing impaired driving countermeasures, occupant protection and distracted driving. The official also discussed other programs administered by NHTSA, including one addressing racial profiling and a program focused on improving crash data collection and analysis in states.
Further details on each of these and other safety programs can be found in NGA’s IIJA formula and grant program table here.
Passenger and Freight Rail – February 28, 2022
Railways were the focus of the White House Infrastructure School session held on February 28. This featured speakers from the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT’s) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and USDOT’s Build America Bureau.
The webinar session started with an overview of FRA’s rail development goals for IIJA funds. The FRA is focused on five key objectives: renewing Amtrak’s fleet and facilities; modernizing the Northeast Corridor; bringing passenger rail service to other regions across the country; growing a safer, cleaner, more equitable rail system; and building the foundation for a long-term rail program.
Officials from the FRA discussed the specific rail programs in IIJA to achieve these objectives. The Federal-State Partnership for Interstate Passenger Rail grant program offers a total of $36 billion in authorized appropriations from fiscal years 2022-2026. The FRA is in the middle of a notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) process for fiscal year 2021, and a new NOFO for IIJA funds will be released later in 2022. Additionally, the IIJA will provide a total of $22 billion in funding to Amtrak, with $6 billion dedicated to address state of good repair needs for the Northeast Corridor and an additional $16 billion set-aside for the rest of the country. The other significant rail program in the IIJA is the competitive Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvements Program (CRISI), which allocates $5 billion over five years and covers almost every type of investment in rail, including infrastructure, equipment, energy and workforce opportunities. There will be a focus in the CRISI program on short-line railroads that connect rural communities (class 2 and 3 railroad services) and alternative power sources such as cleaner locomotives.
The FRA highlighted two new programs, the $3 billion Railroad Crossing Elimination Program in the IIJA, which seeks to address the approximately 200,000 grade crossings that pose safety risks to communities across the country, and the new Corridor Identification and Development Program. Opportunities from the existing Restoration and Enhancement Grants program, which provides operating support for intercity passenger rail corridors, were also emphasized.
As with the sessions on Electric Vehicles and public transportation, officials from the USDOT’s Build America Bureau spoke about opportunities to leverage grant dollars to get projects financed and accelerated. The Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program offers low interest and flexible term loans to finance a range of rail initiatives, including acquiring or improving intermodal or rail equipment and facilities, and financing transit-oriented development initiatives. This program can finance up to 100% of a project and has a cap of $30 billion in loans. The official also discussed the RIFF Express program, which is focused on class 2 and class 3 railroads, commuter railroads and joint ventures, as well as the forthcoming Asset Concessions and Innovative Finance Technical Assistance program and programs focused on tribal areas.
Further details on each of the programs discussed by FRA and other agencies can be found in NGA’s IIJA formula and grant program table here.
Public Transportation – February 24, 2022
Public Transportation was the focus of the White House “Infrastructure School” session held on February 24, which featured speakers from the White House and the Department of Transportation, including the Federal Transit Administration.
The webinar commenced with a discussion of the public transit formula grant programs included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). An official advised that while formula programs were already in operation before the Act came into effect, the major change is a 30% increase in program funding. There have not been many structural changes to these programs, which will help eligible recipients move swiftly in allocating these funds. Speakers highlighted the largest public transit formula programs in the IIJA, including the Urbanized Area Formula Grant Program ($33.4 billion) which will facilitate new transit projects and faster and safer rides, the State of Good Repair Program ($21.6 billion) that will address the backlog in rail car, station and track improvements, and Formula Grants for Rural Areas ($4.1 billion) to assist over 1300 rural transit systems across the country.
Competitive grant programs were also covered in detail. Officials provided an overview of the Capital Investment Grants Program, which will fund transit capacity improvements including core capacity improvements projects, new fixed guideway capital projects and small start projects. A total of $8 billion has been authorized for the program with the possibility of up to $3 billion in future authorizations per year. Speakers discussed the Buses and Bus Facilities Competitive Program and the Low and No Emissions Bus grant Program, and underlined that these two programs will work together to take on the climate crisis through the adoption of electric or alternative fuel public transit vehicles such as hydrogen. It was noted that funds from these programs can be deployed to develop transition plans to bring along transit leaders and workers. Other programs discussed included the new Ferry Service for Rural Communities and the new Electric or Low Emitting Funding programs, the Tribal public transportation programs which have received a large increase in funding , and the new Rail Vehicle Replacement Program, which solely focuses on the replacement of older rail car vehicles which are on average nearing the end of their economic life in the United States.
As with the session on Electric Vehicles, the Build America Bureau in the Department of Transportation emphasized the availability of long term low interest rate loans to help finance public transportation projects The Department can also finance transit-oriented development initiatives such as public infrastructure and real estate developments around stations, and can provide technical assistance with asset recycling projects such as making the most of underutilized parking lots around stations.
Electric Vehicles – February 22, 2022
As part of its “infrastructure school series,” the White House hosted a webinar providing further details on electric vehicle programs included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). During the seminar, officials from the Department of Transportation and Department of Energy discussed the $7.5 billion in funding available in the IIJA for vehicle charging infrastructure, comprising $5 billion in formula grants and $2.5 billion in competitive funding programs. Speakers noted that guidance for the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Formula Program had been released and each state is required to submit an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan in accordance with the guidance to receive funding (plans are due no later than August 1, 2022). It was advised that further information on the $2.5 billion in competitive grant programs is forthcoming.
Officials informed viewers that the Administration expects the vast majority of charging projects will be executed and owned by the private sector. The Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau said it operates financing programs which can assist public and certain private actors in leveraging grants or other funding to build out charging networks. Electric vehicle charging funds can be used for certain operations and maintenance expenses and for staff support, including the preparation of deployment plans.
An official from the Federal Transit Administration offered an overview of the $5.6 billion low and no emissions bus grant program, which provides capital funding to replace or purchase buses or bus-related equipment. The program sets aside 25% of the total allocation for non-zero emission vehicles, such as natural gas and hybrid vehicles, with the remaining funds dedicated to zero emission vehicles. The program also allocates 5% for expenses related to workforce development, unless applicants can demonstrate that this is not required. The webinar discussed several other programs, including the $250 million electric or low-emitting ferry program and the $26 million Low or No Emission Vehicle Component Assessment Program.
“Governors are leading the way as states and territories adopt innovative strategies to support the Electric Vehicle industry and encourage greater EV adoption. The $5 billion in federal funding, provided by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, for EV charging systems will accelerate fleet expansion in the public and private sectors and enhance infrastructure reliability for travel and commerce. EVs were front-and-center during NGA’s Winter Meeting on January 29, when we were joined by representatives from General Motors, Toyota and the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, in which we led a discussion on how Governors can take advantage of the tremendous growth in this sector of the economy to spur job growth and innovation “Governor Andy Beshear and Governor Henry McMaster
Bookmark NGA’s page on IIJA Implementation Resources to stay up-to-date.