$1 Billion in Transportation Grants Announced by U.S. DOT

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced $1 billion in BUILD transportation grants, once again showing a preference for car-centric, rural projects in selecting the winners of this competitive grant process.

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October 12, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Highway Construction

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

In September, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $1 billion in Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants.

The BUILD grant program was known during the Obama administration as the TIGER grant program, but was rebranded and refocused in 2018 under U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao's leadership. While the TIGER program was popular among urban jurisdictions for its focus on urban transit systems, the BUILD program has been a boon for rural jurisdictions.

"The grant funding, announced Sept. 16, will support 70 projects in 44 states," according to reporting on the news by Eleanor Lamb, who also provides details on projects awarded BUILD grants in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kansas, North Dakota, and Colorado.

Among the projects listed for highway improvements, the project in Georgia will build facilities for safe wildlife crossings, and the project in North Dakota is focused on reducing flooding. The only projects included in the article not devoted to automobile infrastructure are plans for a transit hub in Colorado and a multi-modal bridge to connect to Erie, Pennsylvania's waterfront.

Writing for the National Association of Counties in a separate article, Zach George picked up on the rural focus of the BUILD grant program, noting that Secretary Elaine Chao announced that "50 percent of BUILD funding went to rural projects. Of the 70 awards, 19 went directly to county applicants or county projects."

In a rare instance of urbanism-focused coverage of the recent round of BUILD grant funding, Christian MilNeil reeveals the winner and loser of BUILD grant funding in the state of Massachusetts. "The Trump administration turned down a request for federal funding for a planned bus rapid transit corridor on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester and Mattapan, and opted to award funding to a $300 million highway interchange in Hopkinton instead," according to that article.

The U.S. Department of Transportation a full list of the 2020 BUILD grant awards and a press release from Secretary Chao.

See also previous Planetizen coverage of BUILD grants.

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