The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a request for information or RFI on August 5 to get feedback from industry stakeholders regarding its new Thriving Communities Initiative, which the agency plans to launch this fall. Comments are due by August 26.
[Above photo by New Jersey DOT]
The agency said this new program – created by the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act enacted in November 2021 – seeks to provide technical assistance and “hands-on” planning to support “transformative infrastructure projects” serving disadvantaged communities across the country.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or HUD is providing complementary technical assistance as part of the Thriving Communities program, USDOT added, to improve the coordination of housing and transportation planning to advance residents’ access to opportunity and increase housing supply.
USDOT said it defines “technical assistance” to include programs, processes, and resources that provide targeted support, knowledge, or expertise to a community, region, organization, or other beneficiary to help access and successfully deploy funding and build local capacity to develop, design, and deliver transportation plans and projects.
The agency noted that it is interested in learning more about best practices in technical assistance delivery approaches from non-federal providers and those federal agencies disadvantaged communities feel have been successful in meeting their needs. USDOT is also interested in the technical assistance challenges disadvantaged communities face or anticipate facing when seeking to access its technical assistance and capacity-building opportunities.
“Given the historic levels of infrastructure funding we have, it is critical that we ensure disadvantaged communities can access those funds,” said USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg in a statement. “Through the Thriving Communities Initiative and other programs, the Department of Transportation is committed to collaborating with communities to craft technical assistance programs that meet them where they are and meet their needs — helping to create efficient, accessible transportation for all communities.”
USDOT added that it has aligned its Build America Bureau and other programs with the Thriving Communities initiative, including technical assistance programs supported through the Reconnecting Communities pilot program, the Rural and Tribal Assistance pilot program, and the Asset Concession and Innovative Finance Assistance program.
“Together these critical programs will provide support and access to a diverse set of technical assistance providers to work directly with communities as they identify, develop and deliver infrastructure projects that address critical social, economic, environmental, and mobility needs,” added Morteza Farajian, the Build America Bureau’s executive director.