As part of the grant-making associated with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program, the agency will for the first time carve out some of that program’s $889 million budget for projects addressing climate change and environmental justice.
The projects will be evaluated on whether they were planned as part of a comprehensive strategy to address climate change, or whether they support strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as deploying zero-emission-vehicle infrastructure or encouraging shifts in modes of transportation or vehicle miles traveled, the agency said in an announcement.
“As we work to recover and emerge from this devastating pandemic stronger than before, now is the time to make lasting investments in our nation’s infrastructure,” said Secretary Pete Buttigieg, in a statement. “We are committed to not just rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, but building back in a way that positions American communities for success in the future—creating good paying jobs, boosting the economy, ensuring equity, and tackling our climate crisis. The INFRA grant program is a tremendous opportunity to help achieve these goals.
Racial equity will also be considered, according to the agency’s announcement. Requirements will include equity-focused community outreach and projects designed to benefit underserved communities, along with projects that are located in opportunity, empowerment or promise zones or choice neighborhoods.
The new programs show just how quickly federal dollars could be made available to startups that are looking at electrification and provide more strength to the tailwinds already propelling the electric vehicle industry — and its attendant charging networks moving forward.
Large infrastructure projects could receive grants of $25 million or more while small projects must have grant requirements that meet a minimum threshold of at least $5 million, according to the DOT.
Eligible project costs could include: reconstruction, rehabilitation, acquisition of property (including land related to the project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, equipment acquisition and operational improvements directly related to system performance.