USDOT opens applications for US$848m funding to make transport resilient to climate change


The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has opened applications for the first round of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program.

As part of the President’s Investing in America agenda, the program will invest in projects to make the country’s surface transportation system, including highways, public transportation, pedestrian facilities, ports, and intercity passenger rail, more resilient to the worsening impacts of climate change, while reducing long-term costs by minimizing demands for more expensive future maintenance and rebuilding.

The program prioritizes innovative and collaborative approaches to risk reduction, including approaches that harness the power of nature to protect against floods, erosion, wave damage, and heat impacts.

“Climate change threatens not just our lives and livelihoods, but the infrastructure we rely on every day,” said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With these grants, we will help ensure that our roads, bridges, and highways are resilient enough to withstand extreme weather, and will create good-paying jobs along the way.”

By funding projects that improve resilience to natural hazards and climate change impacts, the PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program aims to reduce damage and disruption to the transportation system and improve the safety of the traveling public.  The program will improve equity and further environmental justice by addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities that are often the most vulnerable to hazards.

Grant applicants at all levels of government – from local governments and Indian tribes to state DOTs – are encouraged to apply for up to US$848m in discretionary grant funding, which comes on top of PROTECT formula funding that is already flowing to states.

Projects funded by states using funding through the US$7.3bn PROTECT Formula Program include: design phase work in Kentucky to raise a two-mile stretch of Kentucky-459 above the floodplain; planning in Alaska to evaluate areas to enhance the resiliency of roads, bridges, and associated infrastructure after they were damaged by Typhoon Merbok; and improvements in New Hampshire to NH Route 16 that will move the road 200ft and address frequent wash outs and unstable slopes due flooding from the Androscoggin River.

FHWA administrator Shailen Bhatt, said, “This investment from the Biden Harris Administration to ensure our infrastructure is built to withstand more frequent and unpredictable extreme weather is critical for communities counting on a road or bridge to be open for first responders, and it is critical for a business that must get its essential goods to shelves.”

The Notice of Funding Opportunity for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 is available here and will remain open for applicants through August 18, 2023.

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