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April 6, 2022

On November 6, 2021 Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure. The federal infrastructure law provides $1.2 trillion in infrastructure funding, of which $550 billion is new funding above baseline levels over five years for roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, water, broadband, and other infrastructure programs. While the law continues funding for existing core infrastructure programs with some increases, it also increases funding for numerous discretionary grant programs (some new and some existing) for which government entities can compete for funding.

As a result, many new federal funding opportunities will be made available to states, local governments, and other partners over the next five years, and WFRC intends to aid our local governments by sharing information about relevant transportation funding opportunities. As information is made available, you can expect these notices with detailed guidance and resource sharing to help your community take advantage of these opportunities. 

In this first issue you’ll find:

  • Resources to explore these opportunities further
  • Congressional earmark information and deadlines (note this is separate from IIJA) 
  • Current IIJA discretionary grant programs available
  • Suggested guidance to prepare for these opportunities
  • Suggested principles of competitiveness 
  • Contact information and support from WFRC


As you explore funding opportunities available, the following are particularly helpful:

Other Funding Opportunities: Congressional Earmarks for FY23 Appropriations

After more than ten years, congressionally directed spending, or earmarks, have made a return to Congress. At this time last year, WFRC made its members aware of these potential funding opportunities, which were ultimately not included in the final federal infrastructure bill. Congress did include earmarks, however, in the recently passed FY22 appropriations bill and will pursue them again for FY23 appropriations.

Please note that the funding amounts for earmarks are generally smaller (~$500K - $5M) and will have various requirements as outlined in these guidelines shared with House Members. Additional guidelines were also posted for Highway and Transit projects. Please refer to such guidelines, and any additional direction from Utah’s congressional offices (note that Utah’s Senators will not be accepting requests). 

If your community wishes to submit a local transportation project earmark request to your House Member for consideration in the FY23 appropriations bill, your entity will need to submit those requests directly to your House Member in which the project resides. Each Member of Congress will be limited to submitting 15 requests across all appropriation subcommittees. 

Current IIJA Funding Opportunities

The following opportunities are currently available and accepting applications. For a complete list of published Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) and application deadlines, click here.  

  • RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure Sustainably and Equitably): This popular program helps communities around the country carry out road and transit projects with significant local or regional impact. Selection criteria include safety, sustainability and climate, equity, and economic competitiveness.\
  • MEGA (known statutorily as the National Infrastructure Project Assistance program): MEGA is a new grant program resulting from IIJA that will support large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.
  • INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America): INFRA awards competitive grants for multimodal freight and highway projects of national or regional significance to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas. While this is not a new funding initiative, INFRA was updated to include new eligibilities, set-asides, and other programming changes.
  • Rural Surface Transportation Grant: The Rural Surface Transportation Grant is a new grant program resulting from IIJA that will support projects to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas to increase connectivity, improve the safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight, and generate regional economic growth and improve quality of life.

How can my community prepare to take advantage of these opportunities?

Though the funding for many of these programs is over a five-year period, many grants will be awarded on a one-time or one-year basis, while others will have multiple-year awards and application periods. Putting together an internal game plan for your community will be critical in ensuring you capitalize on these opportunities. We recommend starting with the following: 

  1. Develop a list of priority projects. Determining your community’s greatest infrastructure needs (transportation and otherwise) is your first step in navigating the discretionary grant process. For transportation projects, communities should look to the prioritized projects identified through the shared process of developing Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
  2. Explore grant funding opportunities. Understanding what programs are out there and how they may or may not apply to your priority projects is critical. With hundreds of possible grant programs available, this can be overwhelming, but narrowing your grant possibilities through the lens of your priorities will help refine your search.
  3. Coordinate with the relevant entities. Pursuing these opportunities is a team effort, and state and regional entities are here to help. Consulting WFRC and other partners on which local projects are worth pursuing can be beneficial.
  4. Evaluate internal capacity. Not every grant opportunity is worth applying for, particularly with limited time and resources. Identifying key staff to oversee these efforts, and weighing their time spent with the competitiveness of your organization's proposal will help avoid wasting precious resources.

Principles for Competitiveness

There are arguably many things that go into an effective grant proposal, such as adherence to requirements and simply submitting them on time. We recommend keeping the following in mind as you begin to consider your priorities, and how they’ll stack up against other projects nationally.

  1. Robust understanding of opportunity and process. Fully understanding the grant requirements, deadlines, intent, and application process is arguably the most important factor in a successful proposal. Guidance on this process can be found on grants.gov.
  2. Aligns with administration’s priorities. The Biden Administration has outlined a number of priorities projects should address, including equity, resiliency, climate change, and regional significance.
  3. Has broad community support. It has been made clear that projects with state, local, and regional support fare better than others. Letters of support by community partners are a great way to demonstrate this.
  4. Strong local match. Not only are matching funds required for most grant programs (generally around 20%), but the greater funds and resources entities are able to put towards a project, the more successful an application may be.
  5. Selectivity. The ability to strategically select the right project for the right opportunity is key. Not all grant programs, regardless of their size and scope, align with your needs.
  6. Specificity. Putting forward your best data with a comprehensive yet concise argument.

Coordination and Contact

  • The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget (GOPB) is coordinating with state agencies in pursuing grant opportunities at the statewide level, with UDOT taking the lead on transportation.
  • UDOT and UTA are both evaluating potential opportunities for grants for state roads and transit projects, and are doing so collaboratively to advance Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan.
  • Though WFRC will not apply on behalf of communities, we can provide a letter of support for your transportation project upon request. Projects that are considered for WFRC support should be included in Utah’s Unified Transportation Plan, RTP, or TIP. This requirement allows for prior vetting and community support, and may help a project be more competitive.

If you have any questions about the process or need help, please contact federalgrants@wfrc.org and we will be more than happy to assist you. 

Please keep an eye out for these emails moving forward as we continue to share funding opportunities. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.


Miranda Jones Cox

Visit WFRC's Federal Funding Opportunities Webpage
Utah IIJA Resources
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