Description: The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced availability of $848 million for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 for the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program. The purpose of PROTECT is to make transportation infrastructure and service more resilient to climate change and extreme weather events. The program seeks to plan for and strengthen surface transportation to be more resilient to natural hazards, including climate change, sea level rise, flooding, extreme weather events, and other natural disasters. Grant funds can only be used for activities that are primarily for resilience or inherently related to resilience. The vision of the program is to fund projects that address climate crisis by improving resilience of the surface transportation system, including highways, public transportation, ports, and intercity passenger rail. The program aims to reduce damage and disruption to the transportation system, improve the safety of the traveling public, and improve equity by addressing the needs of disadvantaged communities often most vulnerable to hazards.
The program has four categories of funding - Planning Grants, and three categories of Resilience Grants:
- Planning Grants up to $45 million is available for developing Resilience Improvement Plans (RIP). This category also funds planning/design/development related to simulators of transportation disruption scenarios, including vulnerability assessments; technical capacity building; or evacuation planning and preparation. FHWA requests applications for a minimum award size of $100,000 and no maximum award size.
- Resilience Grants - FHWA requests applications for a minimum award size of $500,000 and no maximum award size for each of the following:
- Resilience Improvement Grants up to $638 million is available to improve the ability of an existing surface transportation asset to withstand natural disasters, flooding and extreme weather events.
- Community Resilience and Evacuation Route Grants up to $45 million is available for activities that strengthen and protect evacuation routes.
- At-Risk Coastal Infrastructure Grants up to $120 million is available for activities to strengthen, stabilize, harden, elevate, relocate, or otherwise enhance the resilience of highway and non-rail infrastructure, including: bridges, roads, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle lanes, and associated infrastructure, such as culverts and tide gates.
Applicants may use one application to submit the same project for multiple funding categories, if eligible. FHWA reserves the discretion to consider award sizes below the requested amounts, if applicant adequately justifies reasons.
Important to note that "highway" is defined in the NOFO as a road, street, and parkway; a right-of-way, bridge, railroad-highway crossing, tunnel, drainage structure including public roads on dams, sign, guardrail, and protective structure, in connection with a highway; and a portion of any interstate or international bridge or tunnel and the approaches thereto, the cost of which is assumed by a State transportation department, including such facilities as may be required by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services in connection with the operation of an international bridge or tunnel.
Link to Program Website:
State, CRCOG, Municipalities, Others
Applications are due August 18, 2023 (electronically through grants.gov)
Local Match Requirements:
- Planning Grants: Federal share of an eligible planning activity shall be 100%
- Resilience Grants: Federal share of an eligible project shall not exceed 80% of the total cost of the project. Exclusions may apply for Indian Tribessts; grant recipients must provide at least 20% of eligible activity costs as a matching share
General Information (both of these webinars will cover the same content; recordings will be available on the PROTECT Program Website):
- Monday, May 8, 2023 at 1:00 - 2:00 pm (ET) Register
- Thursday, May 11, 2023 at 1:00 - 2:00 pm (ET) Register
Virtual Meeting on How to Prepare the Benefit Cost Analysis will be held:
- Thursday, May 25, 2023 from 2-4 PM ET Register
- PROTECT Discretionary Grant Program Fact Sheet
- View slides prepared by CTDOT Grants & Socioeconomics Unit: CTDOT_PROTECT Discretionary Grant Presentation
- FHWA's PROTECT Planning Grants Application Checklist
- FHWA's PROTECT Resilience Grants Application Checklist
- PROTECT Formula Program Implementation Guidance
- The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) to identify disadvantaged communities (Justice40 communities): https://screeningtool.geoplatform.gov/
- U.S. DOT's Transportation Disadvantage Tool
Set-Asides and Limitations
- Rural Set-Aside - 25% for grants to projects located in areas that are outside an urban area with a population over 200,000.
- Tribal Set-Aside - not less than 2% for grants to Indian Tribes.
- Intercity Passenger Rail Transportation - not more than 25% will be used for a facility or service for intercity rail passenger transportation, as defined.
- New Construction - no more than 40% of Resilience Grants may fund construction of new capacity.
- Planning Activities - no more than 10% of Resilience Grants may fund eligible development phase activities and other preconstruction activities
Selection Criteria (See Section E of the NOFO for more information):
- Planning Grants:
- 1. Program Alignment
- 2. Schedule and Budget
- 3. Public Engagement, Partnerships and Collaboration
- 4. Innovation
- Resilience Grants:
- 1. Vulnerability and Risk
- 2. Criticality to Community
- 3. Design Elements
- 4. Public Engagement, Partnerships and Collaboration
- 5. Equity and Justice40
- 6. Climate Change and Sustainability
- 7. Schedule and Budget
- 8. Innovation
Additional Information about Grant Activities by Category (NOFO, Section C.3.a):
- Planning Grant:
- 1. Developing a Resilience Improvement Plan;
- 2. Resilience planning, predesign, design, or the development of data tools to simulate transportation disruption scenarios, including vulnerability assessments;
- 3. Technical capacity building to facilitate the ability to assess vulnerabilities of the surface transportation assets and community response strategies under current conditions and a range of potential future conditions; or
- 4. Evacuation planning and preparation.
- Resilience Improvement Grant: One or more construction activities to improve the ability of an existing surface transportation asset to withstand one or more elements of a weather event or natural disaster, or to increase the resilience of surface transportation infrastructure from the impacts of changing conditions, such as sea level rise, flooding, wildfires, extreme weather events, and other natural disasters including:
- 1. Resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction, replacement, improvement, or realignment of an existing surface transportation facility eligible for assistance under this title;
- 2. The incorporation of natural infrastructure;
- 3. The upgrade of an existing surface transportation facility to meet or exceed a design standard adopted by FHWA;
- 4. The installation of mitigation measures that prevent the intrusion of floodwaters into surface transportation systems;
- 5. Strengthening systems that remove rainwater from surface transportation facilities;
- 6. Upgrades to and installation of structural stormwater controls;
- 7. A resilience project that addresses identified vulnerabilities described in the Resilience Improvement Plan of the eligible entity, if applicable;
- 8. Relocating roadways in a base floodplain to higher ground above projected flood elevation levels, or away from slide prone areas;
- 9. Stabilizing slide areas or slopes;
- 10. Installing riprap;
- 11. Lengthening or raising bridges to increase waterway openings, including to respond to extreme weather;
- 12. Increasing the size or number of drainage structures;
- 13. Installing seismic retrofits on bridges;
- 14. Adding scour protection at bridges;
- 15. Adding scour, stream stability, coastal, and other hydraulic countermeasures, including spur dikes;
- 16. Vegetation management practices in transportation rights-of-way to improve roadway safety, prevent against invasive species, facilitate wildfire control, and provide erosion control; and
- 17. Any other protective features, including natural infrastructure, as determined by the Secretary.
- Community Resilience and Evacuation Route Grant: One or more projects that strengthen and protect evacuation routes that are essential for providing and supporting evacuations caused by emergency events, including a project that-
- 1. Is a Resilience Improvement Project under 23 U.S.C. § 176(d)(4)(A)(ii), if that eligible activity will improve an evacuation route;
- 2. Ensures the ability of the evacuation route to provide safe passage during an evacuation and reduces the risk of damage to evacuation routes as a result of future emergency events, including restoring or replacing existing evacuation routes that are in poor condition or not designed to meet the anticipated demand during an emergency event, and including steps to protect routes from mud, rock, or other debris slides;
- 3. If the eligible entity notifies4 the Secretary that existing evacuation routes are not sufficient to adequately facilitate evacuations, including the transportation of emergency responders and recovery resources, expands the capacity of evacuation routes to swiftly and safely accommodate evacuations, including installation of-
- (a) Communications and intelligent transportation system equipment and infrastructure;
- (b) Counterflow measures; or
- (c) Shoulders;
- 4. Is for the construction of new or redundant evacuation routes, if the eligible entity notifies the Secretary that existing evacuation routes are not sufficient to adequately facilitate evacuations, including the transportation of emergency responders and recovery resources;
- 5. Is for the acquisition of evacuation route or traffic incident management equipment or signage; or
- 6. Will ensure access or service to critical destinations, including hospitals and other medical or emergency service facilities, major employers, critical manufacturing centers, ports and intermodal facilities, utilities, and Federal facilities.
- At-Risk Coastal Infrastructure Grants: Projects that
- 1. address the risks from a current or future weather event or natural disaster, including coastal flooding, coastal erosion, wave action, storm surge, or sea level change; and
- 2. reduce long-term infrastructure costs by avoiding larger future maintenance or rebuilding costs.
- Eligible activities include: strengthening, stabilizing, hardening, elevating, relocating, or otherwise enhancing the resilience of highway and non-rail infrastructure, including bridges, roads, pedestrian walkways, and bicycle lanes, and associated infrastructure, such as culverts and tide gates to protect highways, that are subject to, or face increased long-term future risks of, a weather event, a natural disaster, or changing conditions, including coastal flooding, coastal erosion, wave action, storm surge, or sea level rise, in order to improve transportation and public safety and to reduce costs by avoiding larger future maintenance or rebuilding costs.
This summary is based on a review of the Notice of Funding Opportunity issued on April 21, 2023.
Please contact Elizabeth Sanderson, BIL Coordinator at CRCOG, with questions or if you would like additional information about this program.