Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA)- One Year Later

The IIJA was signed into law on 11/15/21 and offered many federal outlays of monies for programs across the country that clearly – or sometimes only tangentially – involved infrastructure. For example, $21B for brownfields, $100B for impacts of climate change, $65B for energy grid upgrades, $65B for broadband, etc. The late Carl Sagan would have gone hoarse reading off these “billions upon billions.” I am working on one of the projects funded by the IIJA to develop National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure system (NEVI). All told, the IIJA allocated roughly $1 trillion for infrastructure investment and reauthorizes the core federal surface transportation program.

Discretionary Grants for Transportation Funding

Part of the IIJA directed that state departments of transportation could apply for discretionary grants for work on rail, highway, transit, airports, maritime development, and other more traditional transportation funding recipients. ODOT has consultants who have been hired to tap into these and other grant opportunities, but they have also set out guidance for other entities (GO or NGO) to assist with grant application and provide information regarding grant availability. The ODOT guidance document on the IIJA or Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) can be found here.

Most of these grants are going to be applied for by and provided to government entities, but there are opportunities for private and non-profit entities to apply for port upgrades, rail and transit dollars, and general research and pilot programs in conjunction with a government collaborator. Here is a link to almost $3M that was just awarded to help restore the Great Lakes Basin, for example.

Grants Meant to “Reconnect Communities”

Another non-profit opportunity is to apply for grants that “reconnect communities.” Almost $200M will be available nationwide to restore community connectivity and remove facilities that create barriers to mobility, access, and economic development. For this program, think capping a highway and installing a park, or adding a transit line to an underserved community. If you are interested in applying directly for these grants, the U.S. Department of Transportation maintains a site with past and upcoming NOFOs (Notice of Funding Opportunities).

Applying For Grants

To be sure, most of the dollars flowing from these grants will go to government entities like ODOT, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments, ports, etc. So, for clients who are a part of those entities, consider seeking these grants to fund your infrastructure priorities in the next five years or give us a call and we can help guide you toward these dollars. Also, do not forget all the workforce development monies. The IIJA mentions “training” almost 200 times and an important element of the law is to build America’s workforce and train them for these high-paying jobs.

While it is great to have funds for individual projects like the Brent Spence Bridge, one of the better results of the IIJA is the consistent source of funding for these programs over the next 5+ years across the country. These funds will give communities an opportunity to plan, train and hire skilled workers, and give the consulting and contracting groups confidence that they will be bidding on and performing work so they can invest in themselves and develop their workforce the next 5-10 years.