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The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: Three Steps to Preparing Funding Applications

In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure law into law in the United States, cementing his biggest commitment to date to a new economic agenda.

The recent legislation promises to inject a huge $550 billion of new federal investment into America's infrastructure over the next five years, focusing on improving water and energy systems, ending legacy pollution, repairing roads and bridges, and increasing broadband availability. Across United States, the law has been widely welcomed, with many experts agreeing that such a huge boost is completely necessary to ensure a flourishing future economy.

The passing of the law coincides with the nation's infrastructure system earning a less than impressive C- score from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2021. In fact, the 2021 Report Card for America's Infrastructure determined that (before the new law) the United States was spending just over half of what was actually required to support the backbone of the economy. Thankfully, with the turn of 2022, Biden’s imminent funding grants are set to change all of that.

Four Investment Areas for the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The key investment programs the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal is set to bolster include:

Improving power and water systems

From rural towns to struggling cities, the new deal will invest $55 billion in new water infrastructure - eliminating pipes that are old and in disrepair, particularly in Tribal Nations and disadvantaged communities that need it most. Additionally, it will also replace lead service lines and pipes, to ensure every community has access to clean drinking water. Currently, up to 10 million American households and 400,000 schools and child care centers lack access to safe drinking water. The package will also invest $65 billion to rebuild America’s electric grid. This calls for building thousands of miles of new power lines and expanding renewable energy.

The end of legacy pollution

The legislation is set to deliver the largest investment in tackling legacy pollution in American history by cleaning up Superfund and brownfield sites, reclaiming abandoned mines, and capping orphaned oil and gas wells. In thousands of rural and urban communities around the country, hundreds of thousands of former industrial and energy sites sit idle and have become sources of pollution and contamination. The funds will aim to help remediate environmental harms, addressing the legacy pollution that harms the public health of communities. It will also help to create well-paying, union protected jobs, as well as advance long-overdue environmental justice.

Funding for roads and bridges

The new deal promises to invest around $110 billion for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects in America, including $40 billion for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation. The White House has stated that this will be the most significant dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system in the 1950s. The deal also pledges $16 billion to major projects that may be deemed too large or complex for traditional funding programs.

Better broadband for all

Biden’s infrastructure package also pledges $65 billion to improve the nation's broadband infrastructure. The ultimate aim is to help lower the price that households and businesses pay for internet service by requiring federal funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan. This will be done by increasing price transparency and by boosting competition in areas where existing providers aren't providing an adequate service.

Three key ways to prepare your funding application

With the first distributions fast approaching, it’s important that those who want access to the many different infrastructure law grants put themselves in the very best position to receive them. With the significant number of variables to consider, it’s essential for organizations to move from a reactive response to infrastructure failures to a proactive assessment and improvement approach.  Here are several ways you can begin to strategically prepare your application and boost your likelihood of funding approval:

  • 1. Identify the infrastructure needs within your community
    The first step in the process to securing infrastructure law funding is to ensure you have an up-to-date capital investment plan for all of your infrastructure investment or improvement needs. Although some infrastructure needs may be clear, it’s important to develop a complete and detailed list, which may be affected with the additional funds from the infrastructure bill. You may have to re-plan and re-optimize your investments, especially if you add new projects with the additional funds.

    As this internal work is completed, good governance policy dictates a deliberate, open, and transparent process of gathering input from citizens and other stakeholders. Gathering opinions and input from the community through public engagement, as well as sharing funding needs with your congressional representatives, help build community support while improving your chances for project funding. Civic engagement has been an essential part of the recent American Rescue Plan Act - funding and following that structure may help secure your application’s success.

    Prioritizing infrastructure projects that could be pursued jointly with other jurisdictions will also increase the appeal of a project and improve your odds of funding success. Joint projects tend to score better as the agencies that review grant applications will see multi-jurisdictional projects as a more impactful return on funding. Right now is an opportune period to identify and connect with other agencies that might benefit from working collaboratively to do the most good for the larger population.

  • 2. Evaluate the resources you have available
    Now you’ve identified the most impactful projects to pursue, you can begin the bureaucratic work of applying for grants through different agencies. For example, in advance of securing funding, you might be able to refine the project scope, develop supporting details, and further refine the cost of your prioritized projects.

    By having these details in place, you’ll immediately increase the chances of securing funding for your project. It’s also essential to understand that many of these grant programs will need detailed application submittals as well as meticulous regulatory compliance and reporting, subject to federal government auditing. To avoid unforeseen problems and bottlenecks later, take time now to review your organization’s internal controls and processes.

    Given the amount and complexity of the work to come, now is the perfect time to assess now whether your current staff can adequately apply for, manage, and administer what’s needed to see this project through from beginning to end. An honest assessment will give your organization time to either increase staffing or identify a partner that can offer the critical help needed to successfully drive an infrastructure project through from application to completion.

  • 3. Identify and align your funding priorities
    After your funding priorities have been developed, you should be able to align your list of possible infrastructure projects with grants and programs identified within the legislation. It’s believed that many of the traditional federal grant funding programs will be used for the distribution of funds. If you have a pipe or water-related project priority, now is a good time to start thinking about matching and preparing your project for application through federal and state-administered programs.

    In addition to traditional projects such as roadways, water, and sewer work — consider infrastructure needs that have evolved out of the pandemic. This will include work in support of digital and disaster-resilient infrastructure, as well as broadband accessibility. The federal government has prioritized the need for high-speed broadband access as a strategic national initiative. This is the perfect time to consider your local needs for this important infrastructure too.

    Understanding the specific program’s financial requirements — such as local funding matches — will help you to better put forward your request. Although it may not be clear how federal government infrastructure funding will be issued and divided, all communities face the same problems. By preparing a strong case for funding today, you’ll find yourself in a far better position to pursue funding as details are confirmed.
AppliedInsight from Arcadis Gen can help

With the infrastructure law becoming more important than ever — environmental, social and governance issues have also become central to business strategy. Organizations are facing increased pressure from aging assets, extreme weather events and rising regulatory and customer expectations, but AppliedInsight’s suite of intuitive applications empowers asset-intensive organizations to make better management and investment decisions. Built from a unique combination of decades of deep asset knowledge and advanced analytics capabilities, AppliedInsight provides data-driven, actionable insights, and can help you deliver greater sustainability, efficiency and resilience.

AppliedInsight helps organizations like yours make informed asset management and investment decisions - by giving you insights that will enable you to form the strongest funding application possible for your infrastructure projects. Our suite of SaaS asset management tools features next generation analytics with business users in mind - taking you from data to insight seamlessly, giving you fast access to predictions primed on the latest data. So you can plan smarter and with confidence and make efficient, robust, and exact data-driven decisions for operational success.

To find out more about AppliedInsight, take a look at our AI Explainer Video for more details.

If you’re stuck on where to start your journey with AppliedInsight, why not take our quick Project Prioritizer assessment first? With just four quick questions we can help you identify “quick win” infrastructure projects, and you’ll also receive a personalized plan with a quick-start guide to getting the ball rolling.

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