On Dec. 11, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, joined by the Chairs and Ranking Democrats on the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, announced the winners of the first round of Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) discretionary grants. The awards for FY 2018 totaled $1.475 billion and provided funding for 91 individual project grants in 49 states and the District of Columbia with 69 per cent going to rural projects. Overall, applicants in 2018 requested more than $10.9 billion in funding.
The BUILD grants replace the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, which started 10 years ago as part of the ARRA recovery act legislation. The program has proven very popular with states and local agencies, with 851 applications submitted. The maximum grant award is $25 million for a single project, and no more than $150 million can be awarded to a single state. The grants can be used for highway, bridge, rail, transit, port and multimodal projects. Sec. Chao said that 59% of this year’s funding has been directed to road projects, a record high for the program.
FY 2018 funding was at the highest level since the program’s start in 2009 and was almost triple last year’s $487 million. Funding for FY 2019 is expected to drop somewhat as both the House ($740 million) and Senate ($1 billion) versions of the DOT appropriations bills are below this year’s level.