Continuing the rollout of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation has awarded $829.6 million to 80 road, bridge, transit and other projects to improve their ability to withstand floods, rising seas and other harmful effects of climate change. The winning projects are located in 37 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

The grant awards, which U.S. DOT announced on April 11, flowed from the IIJA’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost-saving Transportation, or PROTECT, program. Funds are from the 2022 and 2023 fiscal years.

DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an April 10 press briefing to preview the awards that the needs are significant. “Over the last three years," Buttigieg said,"we have seen far too many examples of transportation infrastructure being shut down or damaged by extreme weather, which is more extreme and more frequent in this time of climate change.” He added, "America's infrastructure was not built for the climate that we have today."

In all, the IIJA provides $8.7 billion for PROTECT over five years. The program has two parts: Of the $8.7 billion, $7.3 billion is distributed by formula to state DOTs. 

The newly awarded grants come from PROTECT's $1.4 billion in discretionary grants, awarded through a competition, with U.S. DOT choosing the winners. 

As with other U.S. DOT grant competitions, the new PROTECT round was oversubscribed.  According to DOT, it received 304 eligible grant applications, which sought a total of $3.5 billion.

Of the new round’s total, the largest share, $621 million, will go to 36 projects in the “resilience improvement grants" category. The planned work includes such tasks as relocating roads, elevating bridges, improving drainage or carrying out other upgrades.

An additional eight projects will receive a total of $119 million for "at-risk coastal infrastructure," to protect, fortify or move highways and other non-rail infrastructure along the coasts. $45 million will go to 26 planning projects; 10 other projects will share $45 million for projects to improve evacuation routes.

Top Five Grants

The largest grant is $60 million to the Oglala Tribe in South Dakota, to improve two sections of a road through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the rural southwest part of the state.

The second-largest award is $56.4 million to the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to replace a structurally deficient, 86-year-old bridge over the Cedar River.

Ranking third is a $40.5-million grant to the Alaska DOT for damage from Typhoon Merbok in September 2022 and for resilience-related upgrades to infrastructure in four disadvantaged, rural communities in Western Alaska.

Also among the largest grants is $39 million to the New York State Thruway Authority to repair and provide seismic protection for improve the South Grand Island Bridges across the Niagara River in western New York.

Ranking fifth is a $38-million grant to the city of Kalamazoo, Mich., for upgrading stormwater infrastructure and protect other projects to redesign the Downtown Kalamazoo Transportation Network.