Apply Now for Billions in Transportation Grants


  • Kyle Funk
  • McKaia Dykema
  • Brittney D. Kohler
July 6, 2023 - (5 min read)

For local leaders looking to increase transportation connectivity between residents and opportunity, look no further than the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).  

Right now, USDOT is taking applications for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) combined program with up to $3.16 billion available under the Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) and the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grants (NAE). Additionally, USDOT is taking applications for up to $5.575 billion in funding for projects of regional or national significance under the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant program. USDOT will use these two application pools to deliver more than $8 billion to cities who apply in this funding cycle.

Together, these two application opportunities will be one of the largest transportation grant amounts available to cities, towns and villages at one time. 

Reconnecting Communities Grants

Any municipality with a divided community or neighborhood because of physical barriers should consider the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods opportunity to bridge their divide. Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods grants will be divided into three separate categories: Capital Construction Grants, Community Planning Grants and Regional Partnerships (see chart below).  

Municipalities with shovel-ready projects should consider applying for construction grants, while those looking to address local transportation challenges in the future should consider planning grants. Often, physical barriers span multiple jurisdictions. In these instances, municipalities may consider partnering with regional partners to address common transportation challenges for local residents. 

As you consider the type of grant they want to apply for, you should also consider under which program, RCP or NAE, you want to fill out the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). Each program under the one NOFO requires different criteria (see figure 2).  

Applicants applying under RCP will face award maximums (planning grants) and minimums (construction) and be required to have some amount of a local match. Under NAE award winners do not face a maximum or minimum and communities have a 20 percent match unless they are a disadvantaged community.  

The U.S. Department of Transportation must award 40 percent of NAE funds to disadvantaged/underserved communities. 

Source: USDOT

Multimodal Grants 

The Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Opportunity (MPDG or Multimodal) consists of three grant programs: The National Infrastructure Project Assistance grants program (Mega), the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highways Projects grants program (INFRA), and the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program (Rural).  

These competitive funding opportunities are awarded on a competitive basis for surface transportation infrastructure projects – think local capital projects involving highway and bridge, intercity passenger rail, railway-highway grade crossing or separation, wildlife crossing, public transportation, marine highway and freight projects. Surface transportation projects that also have a significant national or regional impact or that may improve and expand surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas are also eligible.  

ProgramEligible ProjectsFunding
National Infrastructure Project Assistance Program (MEGA) The Mega program supports large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and are likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits. Eligible projects could include highway, bridge, freight, port, passenger rail and public transportation projects of national or regional significance.  Per the law, 50 percent of funds are available for projects above $500 million in total cost, and 50 percent are available for projects between $100 million and $500 million in total cost. $1.8 billion 
Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highways Projects Grants Program (INFRA) The INFRA program awards competitive grants to multimodal freight and highway projects of national or regional significance to improve the safety, accessibility, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of freight and people in and across rural and urban areas.  Eligible projects will improve safety, generate economic benefits, reduce congestion, enhance resiliency, and hold the greatest promise to eliminate supply chain bottlenecks and improve critical freight movements. $3.1 billion 
Rural Surface Transportation Grant Program (Rural) The Rural program supports projects that improve and expand our nation’s surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas in order to increase connectivity, improve the safety and reliability of the movement of people and freight and generate regional economic growth and improve quality of life. Eligible projects for Rural grants include highway, bridge, and tunnel projects that help improve freight, safety and provide or increase access to agricultural, commercial, energy, or transportation facilities that support the economy of a rural area. 90% of rural funding must be awarded in $25 million or greater amounts. $675 million 

Further Resources

About the Authors

Kyle Funk

About the Authors

Kyle Funk is a Senior Program Specialist on Infrastructure, Transportation and Solutions at the National League of Cities.        

McKaia Dykema

McKaia Dykema is the Legislative Research Manager on the Federal Advocacy team at the National League of Cities.

Brittney D. Kohler

Brittney Kohler is the Legislative Director of Transportation and Infrastructure at the National League of Cities.