The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was enacted on November 15, 2021, yet the funding process is dynamic and evolving weekly. In fact, some programs have yet to be established. Unlike the COVID-relief packages in recent years, through which funding was allocated in one or two tranches and primarily through existing programs, the BIL – originally titled the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – authorized $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure spending over five years, with $550 billion of that amount going towards new programs and over $100 billion in competitive grant funding. These investments span far beyond traditional surface transportation funding, such as $65 billion in broadband expansion, $15 billion for lead service line replacement, $5 billion to clean up federal superfund sites, and $1 billion to address cybersecurity threats.

Noteworthy transportation and energy investments include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Transportation
    • $15 billion for the Rebuilding America Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, an existing competitive grant program for planning and capital investments in surface transportation projects.
    • $8 billion for the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highway Projects (INFRA) program, an existing competitive grant program for multimodal freight and highway projects.
    • $5 billion for the Airport Terminal Program, a new competitive grant program for airport terminal development.
    • $5 billion for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance (MEGA) Program, a new competitive grant program for large, complex multimodal and multi-jurisdictional projects that are difficult to fund by other means.
    • $1 billion for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program, a new competitive grant program for feasibility studies, planning activities, and projects to restore community connectivity by removing, retrofitting, or mitigating highways or other transportation facilities that create barriers to mobility, access, or economic development.
  • Energy
    • $5 billion for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, a new formula grant program for states to strategically deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
    • $5 billion for the Grid Innovation Program, a new competitive grant program to support projects that use innovative approaches to transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure to enhance grid resilience and reliability.
    • $3 billion for the Smart Grid Grants, existing competitive grant programs to increase the flexibility, efficiency, and reliability of the electric power system.
    • $3 billion for Battery Manufacturing and Recycling Grants, new competitive grants to increase America’s domestic manufacturing and recycling capability.
    • $500 million for the Renew America’s Schools Program, a new competitive grant program to make energy efficiency improvements and acquire alternative fuel vehicles.

While the BIL’s investment in infrastructure may appear obvious, identifying and securing funding opportunities may actually prove challenging. Program funding announcements and agency guidance are still forthcoming, though numerous funding opportunities are currently available for private, non-profit, and governmental entities.

For example, while the Federal Aviation Administration has awarded two rounds of Airport Terminal Program funding and the application for the second round of funding under the U.S Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program recently closed, the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment and Healthy Streets Programs are not yet up and running.

Historic BIL funding was followed by an additional $750 billion in federal investment for clean energy and climate resiliency projects over the next ten years through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). For example, the IRA invests $27 billion in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a new competitive grant program envisioned to spur private investment in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in historically disadvantaged communities, $3 billion to reduce air pollution at ports, and over $3 billion to address the historic inequities of infrastructure projects, building upon the $1 billion investment included in the BIL.

Whether you are a government entity, private developer, or a non-profit – the time is now to capitalize on this historic once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment.

How To Capitalize on Opportunity and Ensure Compliance

The intent of the BIL is straightforward: invest in critical and impactful infrastructure projects to build better, safer, and more equitable communities. And do it very quickly.

Despite a years-long backlog worth billions of dollars of infrastructure funding, queuing up a project that is viable, shovel-ready, and compliant with BIL and Administration requirements may take some time and guidance. Key initial considerations include:

  • Developing a familiarity with available opportunities via resources such as the White House Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law;
  • Assessing the status, timing, and nonfederal funding available for potential projects;
  • Addressing any stakeholder opposition to the project;
  • Identifying potential public and/or private sector project partners;
  • Assembling a team that can develop a thorough, compelling, and competitive application; and
  • Staying up to date on open and upcoming BIL funding opportunities.

Each program has specific project criteria and priorities that a successful application must address, and some include prevailing wage and “Buy America” content provisions. Additionally, the Biden Administration overlays key priorities for all BIL projects:

  • Economic Transformation: facilitate good-paying jobs and economic growth;
  • Delivery Capacity: produce measurable outcomes, transparency, and accountability;
  • Resiliency/Climate: incorporate resiliency and sustainability and reduce carbon emissions;
  • Equity: invest in disadvantaged and underserved communities; and
  • Justice40: ensure that 40 percent of the benefits from climate investments support disadvantaged communities.

Potential Bumps in the Road

The White House has been diligent in touting the success of the BIL, frequently updating its Maps of Progress and state-by-state fact sheets tracking investments in all 50 states.

However, a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives may seek to claw back certain funding provisions contained in the legislation. At the very least, House Republicans will continue broad oversight of the Administration’s use of BIL funds. Senate Republicans will challenge agency implementation guidance that they argue contradicts Congressional intent and could limit State flexibility in using their BIL allocations.

Not all BIL concerns are partisan. In December 2022, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS)—leaders of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation—led a bipartisan letter to the FCC expressing concerns with the accuracy of the Commission’s draft broadband map and requesting an extension to the public challenge process. Over 300,000 location challenges were submitted in response. Now, the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are working to finalize a second version of the broadband maps before state Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) allocations are released by June 30.

Coming Soon

The impact of BIL funding is far-reaching, with projects addressing a wide array of areas ranging from transportation – including roads, electric vehicle infrastructure, bridges, transit, rail, airports, ports and waterways – to broadband, clean energy, water infrastructure, and cybersecurity, among others. In our future blog posts, we will take a closer look at each of these areas, and more, and assess eligibility for interested applicants.