Bipartisan Infrastructure Law update
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding update as federal agencies and local legislators continue to provide valuable information on what’s to come.
Information continues to flow with ways local communities can seek water and transportation infrastructure funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new guidance on drinking water funding programs. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has created a new website for infrastructure projects, as well as guidance for requesting a project letter of support from ODOT. Lastly, Congress passed a federal spending bill that provides funding for many programs that are authorized by the BIL.
President Joe Biden, with bipartisan support from Congress, is providing the single largest investment in water the federal government has ever made at $43 billion, according to U.S. EPA.
U.S. EPA released a memo outlining its strategy for allowing equitable access to Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), where a large portion of water infrastructure funds are assigned.
The memo provides information on program requirements and recommendations to ensure the country is working together to deliver clean and safe water and replace lead pipes for all Americans, especially disadvantaged communities.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s investment in clean water is nothing short of transformational,” said Radhika Fox, EPA assistant administrator for water. “EPA and its state, local, and Tribal partners have an obligation to work together and maximize the impact of these funds in communities, especially disadvantaged communities. Water is essential, and this action will help ensure that every American can rely on safe drinking water and have access to wastewater management that protects health and the environment.”
EPA’s implementation memo provides information and guidelines on how the agency will award and administer grants through the BIL, including for the general drinking water and clean water SRF programs and funding that will be dedicated to removing lead service lines and addressing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other emerging contaminants.
The memo highlights the flexibility provided to states and borrowers to address a wide variety of local water quality and public health challenges. SRF funding can be used in combination with additional funding sources to finance water infrastructure projects that meet the most pressing local needs. The memo also underscores provisions included in the BIL to ensure that disadvantaged communities fully benefit from these historic investments in the water sector. Additionally, the memo specifies strategies for making rapid progress on lead service line replacement and addressing PFAS and other emerging contaminants.
Working collaboratively, the SRF programs and EPA can make progress toward Justice40, which aims to ensure that federal agencies deliver at least 40 percent of benefits from certain investments to disadvantaged communities, EPA stated.
ODOT has created a new webpage (transportation.ohio.gov/bil) to provide updates, including a listing of all currently open solicitations for grants, along with application deadlines. ODOT notes that it may not be pursuing grants for all the listed programs, but they are listed for awareness.
Additionally, ODOT provided details for local communities seeking letters of support for grant applications. Requests should be sent to the Statewide Planning office at Statewide.Planning@dot.ohio.gov and include a project description, location map, and a list of what support is sought from ODOT, such as project funding, donated right-of-way, staff time, etc.
Requests for support letters must be submitted no less than 14 days before the application deadline. For example, the deadline for RAISE applications is April 14, so requests for support letters for local RAISE applications must be submitted by March 31.
Opportunities abound for learning about ways to access new funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as federal agencies and local legislators continue to provide valuable information on what’s to come.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur conducted an online meeting for local officials on Jan. 26, a recording of which can be viewed here. Kaptur’s office intends to host ongoing webinars to share updates. U.S. Rep. Kaptur held another webinar on Friday, February 11. Follow up information is pending.
Local leaders are encouraged to notify Kaptur’s office of important projects and priorities for their communities by filling out this form.
On Friday, February 11, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown hosted a webinar with Charles Small, who coordinates outreach to local government and state representatives for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Brown highlighted several ways Ohio will benefit from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, while Small highlighted funds that will be going to new and existing federal programs for which local communities should prepare to apply.
Brown highlighted upcoming investments in sectors like roads, bridges, public transit, and more. He also noted the inclusion of a “Build America Buy America” provision requiring the use of American labor, iron, and steel for these public works projects.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will bring enormous opportunities for job creation and critical transportation upgrades to Ohio. I want our state to get as many projects off the ground and create as many jobs as possible,” Brown said. “These opportunities are a long time coming for your communities, and I will continue working with USDOT and other federal agencies to help Ohio projects move forward.”
Small outlined federal agencies that will expect billions in increased appropriations that will fund highway and bridge projects, low-emission public transit, and electric vehicle charging stations. The latter, he said, is a “flagship program” of the infrastructure law, with a goal of installing 500,000 chargers across the U.S. by 2030 that will “make up the spine of our overall electric-vehicle charging network.”
This will include $140 million for Ohio over the five-year period of the BIL, he said.
Many of the infrastructure programs will involve competitive applications for funding. Small encouraged local officials to contact his office and use representatives like Brown as resources for making strong applications.
The slides from Small’s presentation are available here.
Other helpful resources include:
- www.Grants.gov, a website that includes information about all federal grant opportunites.
- The White House guidebook, summarizing priorities and projects under the infrastructure law.
- The Department of Transportation’s website and YouTube playlist, which includes recordings of past webinars on the infrastructure law.
- Fact sheets on how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will impact individual states.
You can contact the Department of Transportation for direct assistance by emailing Intergov@dot.gov.