Funding Opportunity: BUILD Discretionary Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to apply for $1 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 discretionary grant funding through the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program.

“BUILD grants will upgrade infrastructure across America, making our transportation systems safer and more efficient,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

As the Trump Administration looks to enhance America’s infrastructure, FY 2020 BUILD Transportation grants are for planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.

Projects for BUILD will be evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental sustainability, state of good repair, innovation, and partnership.

To better address the needs of rural America, which has historically been neglected, DOT intends to award 50% of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas that deliver positive benefits for these communities, consistent with the Department’s R.O.U.T.E.S. initiative. For this round of BUILD Transportation grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million, and no more than $100 million can be awarded to a single State, as specified in the appropriations act.

The deadline to submit an application is May 18, 2020.

Eligible Applicants: Eligible Applicants for BUILD Transportation grants are State, local and tribal governments, including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and other political subdivisions of State or local governments.

Multiple States or jurisdictions may submit a joint application and must identify a lead applicant as the primary point of contact and also identify the primary recipient of the award. Each applicant in a joint application must be an Eligible Applicant. Joint applications must include a description of the roles and responsibilities of each applicant and must be signed by each applicant.

DOT expects that the eligible applicant that submits the application will administer and deliver the project. If the applicant seeks a transfer of the award to another agency, a letter of support from the designated entity must be included in the application.

Cost Sharing or Matching: Per the FY 2020 Appropriations Act, the Federal share of project costs for which an expenditure is made under the BUILD Transportation grant program may not exceed 80 percent for a project located in an urban area.2 The Secretary may increase the Federal share of costs above 80 percent for a project located in a rural area. Urban area and rural area are defined in Section C.4.(a) of this notice. DOT shall give priority to projects that require a contribution of Federal funds in order to complete an overall financing package.

Non-Federal sources include State funds originating from programs funded by State revenue, local funds originating from State or local revenue-funded programs, or private funds. Toll credits under 23 U.S.C. 120(i) are considered a Federal source under the BUILD program and, therefore, cannot be used to satisfy the statutory cost sharing requirement of a BUILD award. Unless otherwise authorized by statute, non-Federal cost-share may not be counted as the non-Federal share for both the BUILD Transportation grant and another Federal grant program. DOT will not consider previously incurred costs or previously expended or encumbered funds towards the matching requirement for any project. Matching funds are subject to the same Federal requirements described in Section F.2. as awarded funds. If repaid from non-Federal sources, Federal credit assistance is considered non-Federal share.

For each project that receives a BUILD Transportation grant award, the terms of the award will require the recipient to complete the project using at least the level of nonFederal funding that was specified in the application. If the actual costs of the project are greater than the costs estimated in the application, the recipient will be responsible for increasing the non-Federal contribution. If the actual costs of the project are less than the costs estimated in the application, DOT will generally reduce the Federal contribution.

Eligible Projects:

  • Capital Projects:

Eligible projects for BUILD Transportation grants are surface transportation capital projects that include, but are not limited to: (1) highway, bridge, or other road projects eligible under title 23, United States Code; (2) public transportation projects eligible under chapter 53 of title 49, United States Code; (3) passenger and freight rail transportation projects; (4) port infrastructure investments (including inland port infrastructure and land ports of entry); (5) intermodal projects; and (6) projects investing in surface transportation facilities that are located on tribal land and for which title or maintenance responsibility is vested in the Federal Government

Other than projects described in this section, improvements to Federally owned facilities are ineligible under the FY 2020 BUILD program. Research, demonstration, or pilot projects are eligible only if they will result in long-term, permanent surface transportation infrastructure that has independent utility as defined in Section C.4. (b)

  • Planning Projects

Activities eligible for funding under BUILD Transportation planning grants are related to the planning, preparation, or design—including environmental analysis, feasibility studies, and other pre-construction activities—of eligible surface transportation capital projects described in Section C.3. (a). In addition, eligible activities related to multidisciplinary projects or regional planning may include: (1) Development of master plans, comprehensive plans, or corridor plans; (2) Planning activities related to the development of a multimodal freight corridor, including those that seek to reduce conflicts with residential areas and with passenger and non-motorized traffic; (3) Development of port and regional port planning grants, including State-wide or multi-port planning within a single jurisdiction or region; (4) Risk assessments and planning to identify vulnerabilities and address the transportation system’s ability to withstand probable occurrence or recurrence of an emergency or major disaster.

You can access the full notice of funding opportunity here.

A list of 2019 BUILD grant awards can be found here.