The program goals have changed substantially.
Gone are the days of looking to community linkage and environmental goals. The key components and policy changes are overall economic impact for the nation and region, and the ability of the local government to leverage non-federal and private funding sources.
Not only do INFRA Grants replace the FASTLANE program, it also rescinds most of the FY 2017 applications submitted at the end of the 2016 calendar year. Because of this reversal, a $1.5 billion total reserve of funds are being offered instead of $800 million.
INFRA GRANT REQUIREMENTS
- Project Eligibility: Freight and major highway infrastructure projects, including freight and port projects, that will have national and/or regional (i.e. multi-state / multi-jurisdictional) economic impact through improved mobility, freight access and efficiency.
- Project Size: Small projects must be greater than $5,000,000 and large projects must be greater than $25,000,000. NOTE: Small projects submitted in FY 2017, under the FASTLANE application rules, will still be considered and awarded outside of the INFRA Grant application period. There will be a small amount of smaller projects being awarded later in the year under the old FASTLANE rules.
- INFRA Grant Size: INFRA Grants cannot make up more than 60% of the total project cost, other Federal sources can make up an additional 20%. This gives a project a maximum of 80% Federal and 20% state/local/private funding breakdown. NOTE: One of the major policy changes is the ability to show innovative financing schemes and the ability to leverage federal funds as far as possible, so an 80/20 split would likely score lower than projects with additional leveraging of federal funds.
- Project Readiness: To be eligible for an INFRA Grant, Projects must be generally under construction within 18 months of obligation of funds.
- Deadline: 120 days from the June 29, 2017 announcement.
NARRATIVE AND MERIT JUSTIFICATION OBJECTIVES
- Supporting Economic Vitality: the project must impact national and/or regional (multi-state; multi-jurisdictional; etc.) economic development. NOTE: This must be demonstrated through an economic impact study and a cost/benefit analysis done professionally.
- Leveraging of Federal Funding: this objective is the most repeated goal in policy documents linked to this new program. The desire is to maximize the leveraging of federal funding to attract additional dollars into infrastructure projects. NOTE: The application must show other funding sources, guarantees, and approved plans that other financial resources are being brought in. It also shows the project and its sponsors have exhausted all possible local and private revenue sources and partnerships to come upon the INFRA grant need.
- Innovation: this objective gets more non-traditional as it promotes experimental delivery methods, and new environmental and complex coordination solutions to permitting, etc. Some of the goals are willingness to work under new models of delivery and permitting being worked out by the USDOT and corresponding regulatory agencies. Additional technology goals like dynamic congestion pricing and continued enhancements for autonomous vehicles will be considered.
- Performance and Accountability: the USDOT wants to use the INFRA grants to influence states and localities to introduce and become more comfortable with alternative delivery and financing best practices. Also, USDOT is encouraging applicants to “voluntarily identify measures through which the Department may hold them accountable…” so performance and accountability measures for continued construction funding of a large project may be tied to very project specific and applicant identified metrics.
FUNDING OPTIONS: WHERE DO I START?
Not sure if your project is qualified for an INFRA Grant? Are you looking for other funding alternatives? The ms funding experts can help!
Contact Alex Beres, Director of Finance, Grants, & Funding, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614.898.7100.
Photo Credit: By Lance Cpl. Brennan O’Lowney, U.S. Marine Corps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons