What is in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021?
How does it impact transportation planning and program management over the next five years?
In November 2021, President Biden signed into law the largest infrastructure bill of the last decade – the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA). This bill will deliver a historic infusion of public spending on infrastructure improvements totaling nearly $973 billion over five years.
The bulk of the IIJA funding will be directed through USDOT to invest in transportation infrastructure upgrades:
States and the District of Columbia will see an immediate financial windfall in December 2021 with a 30% increase in Highway Formula Funding vs. FY2021. The largest % increases in FHWA funding went to STGBP set-aside for transportation alternatives, HSIP, Metropolitan Planning, and Ferry Boats and Terminals:
It is encouraging to see greater funding for MPOs – agencies that shoulder particularly heavy responsibilities for investing a large portion of FHWA’s transportation dollars. To fulfill their important mandate of responsibly investing public funding, transportation agencies such as MPOs, DOTs, cities, counties and transit agencies should take stock of their current agency needs from a tools, team and infrastructure perspective to ensure they can successfully plan, track and execute a well-organized vision for investing DIJA’s new infrastructure spending.
Of IIJA’s $550 billion increase in new investments across various programs (i.e., above what the federal government already spends today), the majority of new funds is directed towards transportation programs. Within transportation, a large portion of funds will be spent on roads & bridges, followed closely by rail and transit:
There are a few noteworthy provisions for transportation planners at MPOs, states, counties and cities under changes from IIJA:
- A new $40 billion Bridge Investment Program ($12 billion competitive direct to USDOT) that allows for the repair, replacement and rehab of off-system bridges as well. 50% federal share on large projects and 80% on any other project
- A new competitive grant program for local governments to close, separate or upgrade at-grade rail crossings and reduce collisions
- New population band within STBG for communities between 50K and 200K pop. for more equitable distribution of funds
- $330 million increase to off-system, bridge set-aside annually
- A new $2 billion Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program for highway and bridge projects in an area outside of urban areas with pop >200K. 80% federal share
- MPOs are required to consider equity and proportional representation when designating representatives or officials
In addition, a slew of new programs – many of which are competitive and allow local governments to apply directly to USDOT – include significant funding for a wide range of projects:
- Climate Change programs: $8.7 billion PROTECT Grant Program for infrastructure resiliency*, $6.42 billion Carbon Reduction Formula Program, $2.5 billion for Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants*, $500 million Healthy Streets Program* for reducing urban heat via pavement improvement or tree covers, $250 million for reduction of truck emissions at port facilities
- Rail programs: $10 billion for Mega projects*, $2.5 billion for eliminating at-grade rail-highway crossings*, $4 billion for new culvert removal, replacement and restoration*
- Public Transit programs: 30% funding increase to $15 billion for the Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program, 43.5% increase in contract authority for mass transit FY2022-FY2026, increases in rural set-asides for bus grants and requirements on purchasing low-to-zero emission vehicles, and new requirements for recipients of federal funding such as including agency safety plans
“*” indicates a program where local governments can apply directly to USDOT
There is a ton to fully digest in the new IIJA bill, and with that – a wide range of opportunities for state, regional and local governments to take advantage of new funding programs, competitive grants and policy changes to make infrastructure upgrades and improve transportation planning in a way that most benefits their communities.