BUILD Grants

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USDOT's BUILD Grants program logo (Source: USDOT[1])


The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program is a means by which the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) invests in road, rail, transit, and port projects that contribute to national objectives. Grants are awarded through a competitive application process. In contrast to most federal programs, which provide funding only to specific groups of applicants (usually state departments of transportation and local/regional transit agencies), BUILD grants can provide funding directly to any public entity. Applications are typically due in mid-July. In Fiscal Year 2019, the USDOT will award $900 million in BUILD Grants, down $600 million from the previous year.[1]

Program History

Previous program logo, when it was known as the TIGER Grant program, 2009-2017. (Source: Federal Transit Administration[2])

The BUILD Grant program was previously known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grants program. Since its inception in 2009, through this program Congress has provided $7.1 billion to 554 projects. The program has awarded projects to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands. In its history, the program has awarded approximately $2.4 billion to 223 rural projects.[1]

TIGER/BUILD Grants by Year
Year Program Total Amount Awarded Number of Projects
2009 TIGER I $1.5 billion 51
2010 TIGER II $600 million 42
2011 TIGER III $527 million 46
2012 TIGER IV $500 million 47
2013 TIGER V $474 million 52
2014 TIGER VI $600 million 41
2015 TIGER VII $500 million 39
2016 TIGER VIII $500 million 39
2017 TIGER IX $500 million 40
2018 BUILD $1.5 billion 91
2019 BUILD $900 million TBD



According to USDOT, "State, local, and tribal governments, including U.S. territories, transit agencies, port authorities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and other political subdivisions of State or local governments" are all eligible to apply for BUILD Grants. Each lead applicant may submit no more than three applications per application period.


The Federal Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the BUILD Grant program lists the following surface transportation capital projects as possible examples:

  • Highway, bridge, or other road projects
  • Public transportation projects
  • Passenger and freight rail transportation projects
  • Port infrastructure investments
  • Intermodal projects

Improvements to federally-owned facilities are ineligible, and pilot/research/demonstration projects are only eligible if they will "result in long-term, permanent surface transportation infrastructure that has independent utility."[3]


Exactly half of the funds provided must be spent each on rural and urban projects. For the purposes of this program, the USDOT considers an area urban if its Census-designated urbanized area had a population of greater than 200,000 in the 2010 Census. In the FY 2019 program, $900 million in BUILD Grants will be awarded; $450 million of the funds will be used for rural projects, and $450 million of the funds will be used for urban projects.

Cost Sharing or Matching

The Federal share of costs for a project receiving any BUILD Grant funding may not exceed 80 percent for a project located in an urban area. The Secretary of Transportation may allow the Federal share of costs to exceed 80 percent for rural projects.

Examples of Projects


  • Crenshaw/LAX Transit Line: LA Metro won a $20 million TIGER Grant in 2010 for this project.
  • Port of Los Angeles West Basin Railyard: The Port of LA won a $16 million TIGER Grant in 2010 for this project.
  • Hollister Avenue Complete Streets Corridor Plan: The City of Goleta won a $236,000 TIGER Grant in 2014 to conduct engineering and traffic studies on a 0.8-mile complete street in the Old Town Goleta neighborhood.
  • Mission Bay / UCSF Hospital Multimodal Transportation Infrastructure: The City and County of San Francisco and the SFMTA jointly won a 2012 TIGER Grant of $10 million to "fill critical gaps in the transportation infrastructure" by transforming a former railyard into a mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD).
  • Sacramento Valley Station: The City of Sacramento won $15 million through a TIGER 2012 grant to rehabilitate a 1926 railroad station.

Examples from Other States[4]

  • Rhode Island (RIDOT): $10 million TIGER 2012 grant to help replace the rapidly-deteriorating I-95 viaduct through Providence.
  • Texas (North Central Texas Council of Governments): $210,000 TIGER 2014 grant for Land Use-Transportation Connections to Sustainable Schools.
  • Washington (Sound Transit): $14 million TIGER 2013 grant to add HOV lanes on the floating I-90 bridge.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 USDOT. "About BUILD Grants."
  2. Federal Transit Administration. [1]
  3. Office of the Secretary of Transportation, DOT. Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Department of Transportation's National Infrastructure Investments Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019. Federal Register, Vol. 84, No. 78. 23 April, 2019. p. 16933.
  4. 4.0 4.1 2009-2017 Awarded Projects map. USDOT.