USDOT Issues Tribal-Focused Transportation Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently awarded 13 grants totaling $3.4 million through its new Rural and Tribal Assistance or RTA pilot program.

[Above image via the USDOT]

Administered by the Build America Bureau, USDOT said its RTA grant program supports early-stage development of transportation solutions in rural and tribal communities with grants funding technical, legal, and financial assistance.

The RTA program, created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA, allocates $10 million over five years to provide technical assistance for projects in rural and tribal communities.

USDOT noted that those grants – which require no local match – may be used to hire staff or advisors to assist with early development-phase activities, including feasibility studies, preliminary engineering and design, environmental review, revenue forecasting, financial feasibility analysis, statutory and regulatory analysis, and drafting and negotiation of agreements. 

Morteza Farajian. Photo by AASHTO.

“[We are] excited to work with these new partners to jump-start local projects and better position them to compete for DOT grants and explore innovative funding, financing, and delivery solutions,” said Bureau Executive Director Morteza Farajian in a statement.

He added that the Bureau used a streamlined, simple application form and reviewed applications on a first-come, first-served basis – an approach that reduced the burden on applicants new to or inexperienced with the federal grant process and the numerous forms traditionally required by it.

To ensure equitable opportunity for tribal governments to access the RTA grants, USDOT noted that the Bureau also reserved up to $1.6 million for tribal applicants under this solicitation.

“The response to this funding opportunity was astounding and has highlighted how impactful the program will be for our rural and tribal communities,” Farajian pointed out. “This is just the beginning.”

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