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.
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.
|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|
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."
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
- 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.
- USDOT. "About BUILD Grants." https://www.transportation.gov/BUILDgrants/about
- Federal Transit Administration. 
- 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. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/subdoc/391/fy-2019-build-nofo-fr.pdf
- 2009-2017 Awarded Projects map. USDOT. https://www.transportation.gov/BUILDgrants/all-projects-map