Congress’s signing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act [IIJA]) will create both demands and opportunities for communities across the United States.
Per the IIJA release in November 2021, $1.2 trillion in funding will be distributed across the United State to fund projects that focus on:
- Access to clean water to all families across America
- Providing access to high-speed internet
- Safer roads and bridges
- A focus on climate change and its impact on our infrastructure
- Improving public transportation
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
- Tackling legacy pollution
- Upgrading power infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable energy
- Improving supply chain issues through transportation
States could receive anywhere from $2 billion to $45 billion in non-grant funding for projects that focus on these areas.
It’s not clear how competitive grants will be established
The bill does not offer clarity into the rulemaking that will be used to set up competitive grants. Oftentimes, these types of grants have specific criteria pertaining to disadvantaged communities, so it will be important for state agencies to understand the criteria prior to applying for a specific grant. Knowing that you meet the required criteria will help save time and keep you from applying for grants for which your community may not be eligible to receive.
A focus on alternative transportation projects
With climate change at the forefront of conversation and the current Administration pushing for projects that benefit the environment, many road capacity projects are taking a backseat to multi-modal projects, which focus on options such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and public transit options. This could make it difficult to fund road capacity projects, which continue to be important, especially in smaller communities.
State agencies may face additional staffing challenges
The grants awarded under the IIJA will have strict timelines and criteria that must be met. Should your community win an IIJA grant, it will be important that you already know how you will achieve the schedule, including environmental clearance set forth by the grant.
State agencies will need to have someone who can scope projects, write grants, and if successful, implement the project. This will often require staff augmentation to meet the grant’s scope and schedule. State agencies will also need staff to complete reporting and file claims against the grant for reimbursement.
By bringing in scalable staff, agencies can avoid costs that come with full-time staff, such as overtime and paying for benefits, and bring in staff on an as-needed basis to keep projects moving without contributing to unnecessary overhead hours once the project is complete.
Get your questions answered
There are still many unknowns that state agencies face regarding IIJA. Yet, there are still ways to prepare for the upcoming grant application and execution process. Connect with a SAFEbuilt expert to talk through your concerns and how you can take advantage of these new opportunities.