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Federal Funding for Urban Safety and Mobility

Looking for ways to fund projects that improve traffic safety and mobility in urban areas? Here are grants and programs that can help you get the road and infrastructure funding to launch programs that your city needs today to build the complete streets of the future. Including 2020 funding levels

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Direct Grants

  • BUILD Grants ($1.0 billion) formerly known as TIGER Grants:

    • Smaller projects
    • 50/50 urban/rural split 
    • Minimum grant size: $5 million for urban areas/$1 million for rural areas
    • Maximum grant size: $25 million 
    • Applications due in the spring, funding announced typically in the fall
    • 80% federal/20% local match

    For more information, visit:

  • INFRA Grants ($1.0 billion) formerly known as FASTLANE Grants:

    • Large, nationally significant freight and highway projects
    • 60% grant funding/20% other federal funds/20% local match required
    • Not for local streets, but may be useful for applications to show that industrial urban roads that handle freight are safer for all road users
    • Applications typically due in winter
    • Funding announcements typically in late spring

    For more information, visit:

Programs Distributed to State Departments of Transportation (State DOTs)

  • Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBGP) ($12.1 billion):

    • Sub-allocation of 55% by population (>200,00; 5,000-200,000; <5,000)
    • Remaining 45% can be spent anywhere in the state
    • These can be used for almost any project on the federal-aid highway system (i.e. urban and suburban arterials would qualify)

    For more information, visit:

  • Transportation Alternatives (TA) “set-aside” within STBGP ($850 million):

    • States and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) use a competitive process to sub-allocate 50% of TA funds for urbanized population areas greater than 200,000 residents
    • Includes projects designed to improve access to non-auto transportation such as “Safe Routes to School” and bike/pedestrian projects

    For more information, visit:

  • Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program (CMAQ) ($2.5 billion):

    • Used in air quality (fine particulate matter, PM2.5) non-attainment or maintenance areas except in states where none exist
    • These funds may be used for projects that reduce congestion through demand management, pedestrian and bicycle facilities, as well as other projects that reduce emissions
    • Generally, these funds are focused on urban areas due to the higher likelihood of urban areas being in non-attainment or maintenance areas

    For more information, visit:

  • Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) ($2.4 billion):

    • All public roads are eligible for safety funding, regardless of whether they are on the federal-aid highway system
    • States are not required to provide funding to local governments, but some states do have processes in place to use funds on locally owned roads

    For more information, visit:

The Importance of Building Relationships with Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)

  • Standing woman explains charts to sitting man in office with other people standing and conversing.

    Urban safety advocates and local governments in large urbanized areas should build the case for urban safety projects with their local MPO. Federal law does not require MPOs to develop data-driven safety plans. However, agreements with MPO planners to create plans that reflect a greater concern and strategy for urban safety can help model this practice for others and help secure sub-allocated state STBGP and TA funds for urban safety projects.

    For more information about MPOs, visit: