The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE Discretionary Grant program, provides a unique opportunity for the DOT to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve national objectives. Previously known as the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants, Congress has dedicated nearly $8.9 billion for twelve rounds of National Infrastructure Investments to fund projects that have a significant local or regional impact.
In each competition, DOT receives hundreds of applications to build and repair critical pieces of our freight and passenger transportation networks. The RAISE program enables DOT to examine these projects on their merits to help ensure that taxpayers are getting the highest value for every dollar invested.
The eligibility requirements of RAISE allow project sponsors at the State and local levels to obtain funding for multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional projects that are more difficult to support through traditional DOT programs. RAISE can fund port and freight rail projects, for example, which play a critical role in our ability to move freight, but have limited sources of Federal funds. RAISE can provide capital funding directly to any public entity, including municipalities, counties, port authorities, tribal governments, MPOs, or others in contrast to traditional Federal programs which provide funding to very specific groups of applicants (mostly State DOTs and transit agencies). This flexibility allows RAISE and traditional partners at the State and local levels to work directly with a host of entities that own, operate, and maintain much of our transportation infrastructure, but otherwise cannot turn to the Federal government for support.
The RAISE program enables DOT to use a rigorous merit-based process to select projects with exceptional benefits, explore ways to deliver projects faster and save on construction costs, and make needed investments in our Nation's infrastructure.
Changes from the FY 2020 BUILD program:
This FY 2021 RAISE Notice updates the FY 2020 RAISE NOFO to reflect this Administration's priorities for creating good-paying jobs, improving safety, applying transformative technology, and explicitly addressing climate change and advancing racial equity. Selection criteria will remain the same as the FY 2017 TIGER program. The primary selection criteria are safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and state of good repair. The secondary selection criteria are partnership and innovation.
Consistent with the environmental sustainability merit criterion, the Department seeks to fund projects under the RAISE Program that considered climate change and environmental justice in the planning stage and were designed with specific elements to address climate change impacts. Projects that incorporate such planning considerations are expected to better address climate change and advance long-term environmental sustainability. Projects should directly support Climate Action Plans or apply environmental justice screening tools in the planning stage. Projects should include components that reduce emissions, promote energy efficiency, increase resiliency, and recycle or redevelop existing infrastructure. The Department seeks to fund projects that, to the extent possible, target at least 40% of resources and benefits towards low-income communities, disadvantaged communities, communities underserved by affordable transportation, or overburdened communities.
Consistent with the quality of life and partnership merit criteria, the Department seeks to use the RAISE program to encourage racial equity in two areas: (1) incorporating planning and adopting policies related to racial equity and reducing barriers to opportunity; and (2) investing in projects that either proactively address racial equity and barriers to opportunity, including automobile dependence as a form of barrier, or redress prior inequities and barriers to opportunity. This objective supports the Department's strategic goal related to infrastructure, with the potential for significantly enhancing environmental stewardship and community partnerships.
The FY 2021 Appropriations Act allows for up to $30 million to be awarded for the planning, preparation or design of projects eligible for RAISE Grants, of which at least $10 million will be awarded to projects located in or to directly benefit areas of persistent poverty planning projects.
Since 2009, the Program has provided a combined $9 billion to 678 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands: $1.5 billion for TIGER I, $600 million for TIGER II, $527 million for TIGER III, $500 million for TIGER IV, $474 million for TIGER V, $600 million for TIGER VI, $500 million for TIGER VII, $500 million for TIGER VIII, $500 million for TIGER IX, $1.5 billion for BUILD FY 2018, $900 million for BUILD FY 2019, and $1 billion for BUILD 2020.
Previously funded projects may be viewed at: https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2021-02/BUILD%202020%20Fact%20Sheets%20FINAL.pdf
For purposes of this notice, a project is designated as urban if it is located within (or on the boundary of) a Census-designated urbanized area that had a population greater than 200,000 in the 2010 Census. If a project is located outside a Census-designated urbanized area with a population greater than 200,000, it is designated as a rural project. Rural and urban definitions differ in some other DOT programs, including TIFIA.
A project located in both an urban and a rural area will be designated as urban if the majority of the project's costs will be spent in urban areas. Conversely, a project located in both an urban area and a rural area will be designated as rural if the majority of the project's costs will be spent in rural areas. For RAISE planning grants, the location of the project being planned, prepared, or designed will be used for the urban or rural designation.
This definition affects four aspects of the program: (1) not more than $500 million of the funds provided for RAISE grants are to be used for projects in rural areas; (2) not more than $500 million of the funds provided for RAISE grants are to be used for projects in urban areas; (3) for a project in a rural area the minimum award is $1 million; and (4) the Secretary may increase the Federal share above 80 percent to pay for the costs of a project in a rural area.