Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MPDG)
In November 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), was passed into law. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established two new programs (Mega and Rural) and reauthorized one preexisting program (INFRA).
Mega: $1 billion of FY 2022 funding for the National Infrastructure Project Assistance grants program, known as the “Mega” grants program.
Rural: $300 million in FY 2022 funding for the Rural Surface Transportation Grant program, known as “Rural”.
INFRA: Approximately $1.55 billion in FY 2022 funding to be made available for the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highways Projects grants program, known as “INFRA”.
Funding for these three programs is distributed competitively. For the 2022 FFY, the application for the MEGA grant program was combined with the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight and Highways Projects (INFRA) program application and Rural Surface Transportation Grant (RURAL) program application to allow local agencies to apply for all three programs with a single application.
For the 2022 FFY, DOT is combining these three programs into single NOFO to provide a more efficient application process for project sponsors. While they remain separate programs for the purposes of award, the programs share many common characteristics. Because of these shared characteristics, it is possible for many projects to be eligible and considered for multiple programs using a single application.
The combined application was noticed under the programs are solicited under the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Opportunity (MPDG).
Local agencies allow to apply. More information below is a link to the latest Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO):
2022 FFY Funding Awards Announced: est. late 2022 to early 2023
FYY2022 Grant Awards
RECIPIENT AND FIRST-TIER SUBRECIPIENT GRANT AGREEMENTS
Per Discretionary Grant program requirements, before the local agency is allowed to access their awarded GRANT funding, a Recipient Grant Agreement (RECIPIENT AGREEMENT) must be signed by the local agency, Caltrans, and the FHWA. The RECIPIENT AGREEMENT sets the project’s scope, cost, schedule, and reporting requirements, as required by the GRANT program.
FHWA provides direct oversight on all discretionary Grant program projects. The local agencies submit their applications directly to FHWA without input from Caltrans. FHWA then reviews, ranks and awards program funding to projects without Caltrans input. Caltrans role in the program is essentially to be a “pass through” for federal funding from FHWA to the local agency.
Successful applicants are required to enter into a Grant Agreement with FHWA to define applicant responsibilities, including scope, schedule, cost, reporting, and other program requirements. Up to the recent past, Caltrans also signs the agreement as a simple “pass through” for the federal funding. In 2020, FHWA HQ made changes to the Grant Agreement, changing the Recipient role from the local agency to the State DOT. These changes in the Grant Agreement Boilerplate created a number of fundamental problems concerning project responsibilities. For example, per the new boilerplate, Caltrans was required to commit to maintain the finished local agency project; this included local agency projects that were well beyond Caltrans’ Right-of-Way. Unfortunately, FHWA does not allow edits to the Grant Agreement boilerplate, which is required for federal funding under these programs.
First-Tier Subrecipient Agreement
Although the FHWA Grant Agreement boilerplate cannot be changed (per FHWA), the Grant Agreement does allow the State DOT to have a sub-agreement with the local agency. Thus, a First-Tier Subrecipient Agreement boilerplate was created for use on the TIGER, BUILD, INFRA, and RAISE projects; to correct a number of fundamental problems caused by the Grant Agreement (ex. Caltrans committing to maintain a complete project local agency road well beyond the SHS). Through the First-Tier Subrecipient Agreement, the local agency reassumes the project responsibilities that were in place before the 2020 FHWA unilateral change, and Caltrans reassumes the role as a “pass through” for the federal funding from FHWA to the local agency.
Each grant will be managed by a different group in FHWA HQ and probably use different agreement. So, depends on which agreement FHWA will use, it will determine if a First-Tier Subrecipient agreement is needed.
Additional Useful Links
MPDG – Frequently Asked Questions US Department of Transportation
For more information concerning this program contact:
Bill Huang, P.E.
HIP, Earmark Repurposing (FERP), TIGER, BUILD, RAISE, INFRA,
RSTG and MEGA Programs Coordinator (All Districts)
Division of Local Assistance, Caltrans
Also, please feel free to send comments regarding this web site to the DLA Webmaster.