USDOT makes more than $3B for Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program
As a part of the RCN Opportunity, the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program (NAE) will provide up to $3.155 billion in grant awards to connect communities by supporting neighborhood equity, safety, and affordable transportation access as well as mitigating negative environmental impacts. The NAE program will emphasize assisting economically disadvantaged or underserved communities with planning and capacity building.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) established the NAE program, allocating $3.155 billion in funding. The NAE program will award funding for planning and construction activities to eligible facilities under three types of grants: Community Planning Grants, Capital Construction Grants, and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants.
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You may send questions to ReconnectingCommunities@dot.gov.
Who is eligible to apply?
The Department encourages joint applications from place-based partnerships headed by a lead applicant. Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants require a partnership between two or more of the eligible applicants below.
- States and territories of the United States
- Units of local governments
- Political subdivisions of a State
- Federally recognized Tribal governments
- Special purpose districts or public authorities with a transportation function
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations
- Nonprofit organizations or institutions of higher education
- Must have entered into a partnership with an eligible entity above and be applying for planning and capacity building activities in disadvantaged or underserved communities.
What is an Eligible Facility?
Facilities eligible for NAE Program funding fall primarily into two categories:
- A dividing facility: A surface transportation facility that creates an obstacle to community connectivity by design factors such as high speeds or grade separation.
- A burdening facility: A surface transportation facility that is a source of burdens to a disadvantaged or underserved community, such as air pollution, noise, stormwater.
NAE activities are not limited to addressing the surface transportation facilities listed above. See below for additional information about NAE eligible activities and go to the NOFO for a complete listing.
Community Planning Grants
Community Planning Grants can be used for planning activities for future construction projects and allow for innovative community planning to address localized transportation challenges.
Eligible planning activities
- Conducting public engagement activities.
- Planning studies to assess the feasibility of removing, retrofitting, or mitigating an existing eligible dividing or burdening facility to reconnect communities.
- Planning and capacity building activities in disadvantaged or underserved communities to identify, monitor or assess air quality, emissions, hot spot areas or extreme heat, gaps in tree canopy coverage, or flood-prone transportation infrastructure.
- Predevelopment activities for eligible NAE Capital Construction projects.
- Assessing transportation equity or pollution impacts.
- Other planning activities required in advance of a project to remove, retrofit, or mitigate an existing eligible facility to restore community connectivity, as determined by DOT.
- Administering or obtaining technical assistance related to other eligible planning activities.
Capital Construction Grants
Capital Construction Grants can be used to carry out a project to remove, retrofit, mitigate, or replace an existing eligible dividing facility with a new facility that reconnects communities; mitigate a burdening facility that is a source of air pollution, noise, stormwater, or other burdens; or implement a strategy to reduce environmental harm and/or improve access.
Eligible capital construction activities
- Removal, retrofit, or mitigation of an existing eligible facility.
- Replacement of an eligible facility with a new facility that restores community connectivity and is sensitive to the context of the surrounding community.
- The reuse of a facility to improve walkability, safety, and affordable transportation access through projects that are context sensitive.
- Projects to mitigate or remediate negative impacts on the human or natural environment resulting from a burdening facility.
- Building or improving complete streets, multiuse trails, regional greenways, or active transportation networks and spines.
- Providing affordable access to essential destinations, such as through transit, to public spaces, or transportation links and hubs.
- Preliminary and detailed design activities and associated environmental studies; predevelopment / preconstruction; permitting activities including the completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process; delivering community benefits and the mitigation of impacts identified through the NEPA process or other planning and project development for the capital construction project.
Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants
Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants can be used for projects led by two or more eligible applicants to address a persistent regional challenge related to equitable access and mobility.
Eligible regional partnership challenge activities
- Activities eligible under Community Planning Grants and Capital Construction Grants completed through partnerships of at least two entities to tackle persistent, regional equitable access and mobility challenges.
The Department must prioritize technical assistance to economically disadvantaged communities. The Department is launching the Reconnecting Communities Institute to provide technical assistance.
Technical assistance is for building organizational or community capacity to engage in transportation planning and to identify innovative solutions to infrastructure challenges, including reconnecting communities that are bifurcated by eligible facilities or lack safe, reliable, and affordable transportation options.