Life in the FASTLANE is about to become a bit different after a recent overhaul of this program by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Signaling a shift in gears, its name has been changed to Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA). While priorities such as promoting national or regional economic benefits, safety, and mobility will carry over, there is a new emphasis on innovative ways to leverage non-federal funding, including those from states, cities, and the private sector.
2016 Applicants May Need to Reapply
The FastLane program had categories for both large and small projects. According to the DOT FAQ section, previously submitted applications for Small Projects will remain under consideration. However, applicants for Large Projects must reapply. 2016 applications may be resubmitted with an appendix that describes how their project aligns with the new criteria and must include any required supplemental information not contained in the original application.
The INFRA Program
The INFRA program provides dedicated funding for fixing highways, bridges, and other critical infrastructure. Eligible project costs may include:
- Property acquisition
- Environmental mitigation
- Construction contingencies
- Operational improvements related to system performance
Eligible costs, project types, cost share, project size and other statutory requirements have stayed the same. However, as reported by NARC, with the new priorities, project outcomes are less important than process improvements and innovations. The amount of local effort in a project—including funding, operations and maintenance—is of increased importance, as are performance and accountability factors.
Applying for Infrastructure for Rebuilding America
The $1.5 billion available includes most of the funding for FY 2017 and all of 2018. There will be no separate competition in FY 2018. Therefore, in addition to 2016 applicants for Large Projects resubmitting their applications, new applicants for both small and large projects are also being accepted. Eligible applicants are Native American tribes, state and local governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and special purpose districts. Applications must be submitted 120 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Department of Transportation has put together a INFRA vs. FASTLAND Fact Sheet for side-by-side comparison of the two programs. There is also a webinar on Thursday, July 13, to help applicants through the process.
eCivis and The Ferguson Group (TFG) co-hosted a webinar on how to prepare for three federal grant opportunities expected to be released in the coming months. The webinar covered the importance of annually preparing a calendar of priority grants for your community and how planning ahead can boost your community's grants success. Grants covered: Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grants (TIGER), Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), and Brownfields Assessment Grants. You can access the recording below: