How RAISE Grants Promote Car-Free Mobility

While there are many reasons to break away from automobile dominance, the RAISE grant program is the only federal effort fully reflecting a public transit and active transportation priorities.

December 1, 2021, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Highway Construction

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock

Laura Bliss reports for Bloomberg CityLab on the potential of the first round of RAISE grant program funding, announced on November 19 by the U.S. Department of Transportation, to make substantive changes to the pro-automobile priorities established by its predecessor program, the Trump administration's BUILD grant program, and over a century of U.S. transportation planning.

According to Bliss, the nearly $1 billion allotted by the RAISE grant program is much more focused on alternative transportation modes (i.e., not road expansion projects). "[O]nly about 5% of RAISE funds will support new roads, and 10% will go to projects that increase road capacity," according to Bliss. "The rest will flow to a mix of projects such as a freeway cap in Atlanta, a greenway project in Cincinnati, transit planning in Omaha, Missoula and Charlotte, and pedestrian and bike safety improvements in Denver, Oakland and Wilmington."

Bliss notes that the financial equation differs greatly from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which despite spending a record amount on alternative transportation projects also includes record amounts for road building (without the previously planned guardrails that would have made it more challenging for state departments of transportation from spending federal funding on the transportation status quo).

The article includes more insight from transportation experts about how to track and evaluate the use of both RAISE and IIJA funds in the coming months and years.

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