$900 million of infrastructure grant funding is up for grabs this year as part of the USDOT BUILD program. Interested? You’ll need to get organized and move swiftly, because competition is fierce and applications are due on July 15, 2019.
BUILD = Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development. This U.S. Department of Transportation Discretionary Grants Program is awarding funding to communities who prove they have an essential, qualifying surface infrastructure project that will make a significant and lasting impact.
What types are projects are eligible for BUILD grant funding?
They must be capital projects that include, but are not limited to:
- Road, bridge, or highway projects
- Public transportation projects
- Passenger and freight rail transportation projects
- Port infrastructure investments (including inland ports and land ports of entry)
- Intermodal projects
Who can receive BUILD grants?
- State, local and tribal governments
- U.S. territories
- Transit agencies
- Port authorities
- Metropolitan planning organizations
- Other political subdivisions of state or local governments
BUILD grants have been around since 2009, first introduced by President Obama’s administration after the financial collapse of 2008. The program was then called the TIGER program – Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery. The premise in 2019 is much the same, but in this round, 50 percent of the grants will be awarded to rural areas, with the other 50 percent designated for urban projects.
What is the definition of urban versus rural under BUILD?
For the FY 2019 program, a project is considered urban if it is located within or on the boundary of an Urbanized Area (UA) as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau, and that the containing UA had a population greater than 200,000 in the 2010 census. If a project does not meet these criteria, it is considered a rural project.
Projects that cross between urban and rural districts—or have expenditures within each—will be categorized based upon where the majority of the funds will be spent.
For submissions in rural areas, the DOT has provided some additional selection criteria which gives added consideration to projects that improve access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation. This includes projects that “improve infrastructure condition, address public health and safety, promote regional connectivity, facilitate economic growth or competitiveness, deploy broadband as part of an eligible transportation project, or promote energy independence.”
How do you apply for a BUILD grant?
An application for a USDOT BUILD Transportation Grant requires attention to detail and a compelling project narrative. This is a juried and competitive process, with highly sought-after and much needed assistance on the line. Entities must complete an application for federal assistance, a BUILD 2019 Project Information Form and then compile a comprehensive and persuasive project narrative. The length of the narrative is 30 pages maximum, addressing in detail each of six predetermined program requirements, including a benefit cost analysis, as well as addressing seven additional selection criteria points. Letters of support from state and federal representatives are also highly recommended as supplements to the application.
How much in grant funding can you potentially secure?
For projects located in rural areas, the minimum award is $1 million and the max, $25 million. Grants supporting projects in rural communities may be used to cover up to 100 percent of the cost.
For projects located in urban areas, the minimum award is $5 million and the max, $25 million. In addition, the minimum total project cost for an urban application must be at least $6.25 million to meet match requirements. Finally, as opposed to rural projects, grants given to projects in urban areas may only be used for up to 80 percent of the final cost.
No more than $90 million total will be awarded to any singular state.
How can MSA help?
MSA recognizes the significance of these grants and the magnitude of assistance they can provide. Our funding experts have helped communities compile BUILD grant submissions in the past and have discussed winning strategies, designs and narrative components with professionals from the DOT selection committee. It is our mission to help strengthen and sustain communities large and small. We know that planning for critical infrastructure projects like this is key to long-term vitality and success.
Whether new to the application process or simply too busy to give it ample attention, we’re here to help. MSA can assist with narrative creation, application coordination and the procurement of letters of recommendation from state and federal agencies to accompany. We know that every step forward is a good one, and with a substantial grant like this – that step can be a sizable one.
The sooner we get going, the better. Connect with us today and let’s get started!