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Multimodal Transportation Project Grants (Rural)

  • Granting Agency: U.S. Dept. of Transportation
  • Appropriation Amount: $675,000,000
  • Grant Amount:  >$25,000,000 w/ exceptions, 0-20% Match
  • Announcement Date: June 22, 2023
  • Closing Date: August 21, 2023

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established two new multimodal transportation programs (Mega, Rural) and reauthorized one preexisting program (INFRA) which are being announced in one NOFO for Multimodal Project Discretionary Grants (MPDG). Read the NOFO here.

Sponsors of multimodal projects with additional questions or interested in receiving additional assistance are invited to visit the Department’s Grants homepage: and look for MPDG grants.

The Department has published a Guide to Benefit Cost Analysis and several recorded webinars. A FAQ can be found here.

Changes from the FY 2022 MPDG NOFO:

While the six Outcome Area criteria from FY 2022 remain the same, the FY 2023-2024 NOFO has revised how each criterion will be rated, using a rubric that updates and distinguishes how an application will be assigned a 0, 1, 2, or 3 for each criterion.

For the first time in FY 2023-2024, the Department is establishing a Cost Estimate Review team, who will evaluate in greater detail the cost estimates for any project requesting $1 billion or more in funding from the MPDG opportunity.
The list of counties qualifying as Areas of Persistent Poverty has been updated from MPDG 2022 to reflect more recent Census data4. The definition of census tracts qualifying as Historically Disadvantaged Communities has also been updated, in accordance with the Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), a new tool by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), that aims to help Federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities as part of the Justice40 initiative to accomplish the goal that 40% of benefits from certain federal investment reach disadvantaged communities.

Rural Program applicants who are requesting less than $25 million need address only three of the outcome area criteria: (a) Safety; (b) Climate Change, Resiliency, and the Environment; and (c) Equity, Multimodal Options, and Quality of Life.

Applicants who are planning to reapply using materials prepared for prior competitions should ensure that their FY 2023-2024 application fully addresses the criteria and considerations described in this notice and that all relevant information is up to date.

Purpose: The Rural Surface Transportation Grant program, also known as Rural, is reserved for surface transportation projects in rural areas, with a minimum of 90% of all projects having a minimum $25 million Rural grant award. The Rural program will focus on rural needs, such as improving highway safety and expanding access to rural transit service. Set asides for projects on the Appalachian Development Highway System and projects located in states with above average rural lane departure fatality rates. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis for surface transportation infrastructure projects – including highway and bridge, intercity passenger rail, railway-highway grade crossing or separation, wildlife crossing, public transportation, marine highway, and freight projects, or groups of such projects – with significant national or regional impact, or to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas.

Eligible Projects:

1. A highway, bridge, or tunnel project eligible under National Highway Performance Program
2. A highway, bridge, or tunnel project eligible under Surface Transportation Block Grant
3. A highway, bridge, or tunnel project eligible under Tribal Transportation Program
4. A highway freight project eligible under National Highway Freight Program
5. A highway safety improvement project, including a project to improve a high risk rural road as defined by the Highway Safety Improvement Program
6. A project on a publicly-owned highway or bridge that provides or increases access to an agricultural, commercial, energy, or intermodal facility that supports the economy of a rural area
7. A project to develop, establish, or maintain an integrated mobility management system, a transportation demand management system, or on-demand mobility services

Eligible project costs include (1) development phase activities, including planning, feasibility analysis, revenue forecasting, environmental review, preliminary engineering and design work, and other preconstruction activities; (2) and, Construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, acquisition of real property (including land related to the project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, acquisition of equipment, and operational improvements.

Rural grants may be used for up to 80 percent of future eligible project costs, except eligible projects that further the completion of a designated segment of the Appalachian Development Highway System under 40 U.S.C. § 14501 or address a surface transportation infrastructure need identified for the Denali access system program under section 309 of the Denali Commission Act of 1998 may apply for up to 100 percent of the project costs. Other Federal assistance may satisfy the non-Rural share requirement for a Rural grant up to 100 percent of project costs.


For a Rural project to be selected, the Department must determine that the project meets five requirements described in 23 U.S.C. § 173(g) and below and further described in Section E.1.v.b and Section D.2.b.vii. If your project consists of multiple components with independent utility, the Department must determine that each component meets each requirement, to select it for an award. See Section D.2.VIII.
Rural Project Requirement #1: will generate regional economic, mobility, or safety benefits.
Rural Project Requirement #2: The project will be cost-effective.
Rural Project Requirement #3: The project will contribute to the accomplishment of 1 or more of the national goals under 23 U.S.C. § 150.
Rural Project Requirement #4: The project is based on the results of preliminary engineering.
Rural Project Requirement #5: The project is reasonably expected to begin construction not later than 18 months after the date of obligation of funds for the project.

The INFRA and Rural program statutes define a rural area as an area outside an Urbanized Area with a population of over 200,000.

While the MPDG grant opportunity consists of three separate programs, DOT will evaluate common applications for the programs using common merit criteria and considerations to provide a more streamlined and efficient application process for project sponsors. The common set of criteria include: safety; state of good repair; economic impacts, freight movement, and job creation; climate change, resiliency, and the environment; equity, multimodal options, and quality of life; and innovation. Additional considerations include cost effectiveness; demonstrated project readiness, which includes technical assessment, financial completeness, and environmental review and permitting risk; and geographic diversity among recipients, including a balance between the needs of urban and rural projects. Because of these shared characteristics, it is possible for many projects to be eligible and considered for multiple programs using a single application.

Eligible Applicants:

1. a State;
2. a regional transportation planning organization;
3. a unit of local government;
4. a tribal government or a consortium of tribal governments; or
5. a multijurisdictional group of entities above