USDOT Solicits FY20 BUILD Grant Applications

This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation invited applications for $1 billion in fiscal 2020 multimodal surface transportation grants under the BUILD program (formerly known as TIGER).

The Department released a draft Notice of Funding Opportunity that should be published in the Federal Register early next week. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. EDT on May 18, 2020.

The overall structure of the 2020 program is very similar to the 2019 program – the language of the appropriations act prevents USDOT from awarding more than half of the total appropriation ($500 million) to projects in rural areas (the Trump Administration had been giving close to two-thirds of the money in the 2017 and 2018 rounds to rural projects before Congress intervened).

And this year, Congress did not make it optional for USDOT to give $15 million of the money for planning grants instead of construction grants. (The 2018 and 2019 appropriations acts both said that the Secretary “may use an amount not to exceed $15,000,000” for planning grants, but in both years, USDOT declined to give any money for such grants. In the 2020 act, the appropriators changed the language to “the Secretary shall use an amount not less than $15,000,000” for planning grants, making it mandatory.)

Other items that are new in the FY 2020 iteration of the BUILD program:

  • A new provision in law making eligible “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.”
  • A new provision in law stating that the funds set aside for oversight activities shall not be used to hire additional personnel.

The rest of it stays the same – the $5 to $25 million grant size and maximum 80 percent federal cost share for urban projects, the $1 million minimum size and 100 percent maximum federal share for rural projects, the requirement that the NOFO use the FY 2017 Obama NOFO criteria for the FY 2020 applications.

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