Navigating Federal Transportation Programs and New Technical Assistance

October 11, 2022 - (4 min read)

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) signed into law last November by President Biden is a once-in-a-generation investment in America’s urban, rural, and Tribal communities. BIL creates new competitive grant programs that allow local governments and non-traditional transportation organizations, such as public health departments or school boards, to apply directly for funding.

Along with BIL’s new funding opportunities, may come a high degree of anxiety and uncertainty for those who have not previously applied to or worked with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) or their state and regional transportation agencies. So at USDOT we’re building new resources that can help make it easier for any city – of any size – to jump in and understand how to navigate the process with our new Navigator website and tools.

The online USDOT Navigator launched this summer to help first-time applicants, as well as returning contenders identify existing technical assistance resources from across the department. Whether you are looking for information on innovative financing, the transportation planning process, or on workforce development programs, the Navigator can help to connect you with resources available to support highway, transit, maritime, railroad, aviation, and multimodal projects. 

The Navigator also provides useful primers to demystify the grant application process. Many of these resources are translated into Spanish. With thousands of views in its first two months, here are the top five Navigator “hits.”

Five Most Popular USDOT Navigator Web Pages

  1. Federal Tools to Determine Disadvantaged Community Status – Describes the Administration’s Justice40 initiative and provides links to various tools that can be used to validate disadvantaged community status, which is a priority consideration in many USDOT grant programs.
  2. Understanding Non-Federal Match Requirements – Provides general information to better understand what can be considered as non-federal match resources and links to specific programs that provide flexibility or waivers to match requirements for Tribal, rural, and urban disadvantaged communities.
  3. Overview of Funding and Financing at USDOT – Useful primer to understand the differences between formula funds, discretionary funding, and innovative finance and determine which may be the best fit for your community and project.
  4. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding Opportunities – Check out the many useful USDOT and White House BIL resources, including a list of upcoming discretionary grant funding opportunities.
  5. Is Federal Funding the Right Fit for My Organization? – Applying for and receiving federal funding is a complex process. Knowing what federal requirements and regulations come with funding is critical to determining whether the “juice is worth the squeeze.”

New Technical Assistance Programs Launching This Fall


Submit a Community Letter of Interest for the Thriving Communities Program.

USDOT recognizes the power of every local community to thrive if it has the tools to succeed. This includes ensuring they know how to access federal funding opportunities, scope and plan for transformative infrastructure, and successfully deliver projects, and meaningfully engage community stakeholders throughout the process. Over the coming months, USDOT will be updating the Navigator to improve search functionality and adding more resources to align with the Department’s strategic priorities for equity, safety, climate, transformation, and economic strength.

USDOT will also be launching several new technical assistance programs, including the Thriving Communities Program in early October. DOT and HUD will be issuing Notices of Funding Opportunities to select capacity-building organizations to provide technical assistance, planning, and capacity-building to communities. USDOT will also invite interested communities to submit Letters of Interest to participate in the program. Visit the Thriving Communities webpage to learn more including information on upcoming webinars or sign up for updates.

Check Out the USDOT Navigator

About the Author

Mariia Zimmerman is the Strategic Advisor for Technical Assistance and Community Solutions in the Office of the Secretary at the US. Department of Transportation.

About the Authors