Biden-Harris Administration Announces New, Streamlined Funding Application Process for Infrastructure Projects That Reconnect Communities

Biden-Harris Administration Announces New, Streamlined Funding Application Process for Infrastructure Projects That Reconnect Communities

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Department of Transportation is now taking applications for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program, an unprecedented effort to build good transportation infrastructure to reconnect communities to economic opportunities.

The streamlined program, which combines two different programs created in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, will make it easier to submit an application and increase opportunity for communities that are seeking funding for projects that address harm from past infrastructure planning decisions, accelerate equitable community revitalization, and improve access to everyday destinations

“Transportation should never divide communities – its purpose is to connect people to jobs, schools, housing, groceries, family, places of worship, and more. That’s what the Reconnecting Communities program and the Neighborhood Access and Equity program are designed to ensure,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “By combining these two grant programs into a single application, we are making it easier for communities to seek and receive the funding they need to build better, safer, inclusive infrastructure for the future.”

The Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program was established in President Biden’s infrastructure law to help fund community-led projects that mitigate physical barriers to mobility and access, such as train tracks or highways. The Inflation Reduction Act established the Neighborhood Access and Equity Program that similarly funds projects that remove physical barriers as well as projects to improve walkability, safety, and affordable transportation access, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities.  

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act are key components of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda which is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $490 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs and building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

Available funding being announced today includes:

  • $198 million for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, of which:
    • $148 million is for Capital Construction Grant funds, and
    • $50 million is for Community Planning Grants, including funding for technical assistance.
  • $3.155 billion for the Neighborhood Access and Equity Program, of which the Department expects to award up to: 
    • $135 million to Community Planning Grants, 
    • $2.57 billion to Capital Construction Grants, and 
    • $450 million to Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants, designed to incentivize regions to come together to leverage both federal, state, and regional funding and policies to tackle problems.

Earlier this year, the Department awarded $185 million to 45 communities as part of the Reconnecting Communities Program, including six Capital Construction grants and 39 Community Planning grants. Later this summer DOT will be launching the new Reconnecting Communities Institute to provide communities and potential applicants with technical assistance. This first round of grants funded construction and planning for transformative community-led solutions, including capping interstates with parks, filling in sunken highways to reclaim the land for housing, converting inhospitable transportation facilities to tree-lined Complete Streets, and creating new crossings through public transportation, bridges, tunnels and trails. These projects are helping to revitalize communities, provide access to jobs and opportunity, and reduce pollution.

In addition to the funding announcement today, the Department of Transportation has entered into a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to coordinate technical assistance efforts to plan and build infrastructure that reconnects and improves access, especially for marginalized communities. Working with philanthropic organizations like RWJF leverages additional resources and enables support to more communities and organizations that are working to provide people with better mobility options to facilitate community revitalization, catalyze equitable development and create access to more economic opportunities. 

This combined NOFO follows the model that the Department established for the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Program announced last week, which combines funding opportunities for the Mega, Rural, and INFRA grant programs. Last year the Department piloted the combined NOFO for these three programs to make it easier for communities to apply to one, two, or three major discretionary grant programs with a single application and a common set of criteria. The Department received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the streamlined process. 

This program is covered under President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which sets the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. It is also an example of how the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to equitable community development that advances equity and community-driven priorities. The deadline for applications is 11:59 pm EDT on September 28th, 2023, Applicants may find the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods NOFO, Frequently Asked Questions, and other helpful resources


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