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Primer for Improved Urban Freight Mobility and Delivery
Operations, Logistics, and Technology Strategies

Federal Funding Opportunities for Freight

Funding for OLT strategies can come from a number of sources, including Federal and State governments, special authorities, public or private tolls, local assessment districts, local property and sales taxes, and fee-based funding sources such as revenues from loading zone meters, truck tickets, and oversize/overweight permitting. Federal-aid transportation programs are typically the primary public funding source for capital investment projects. Most Federal-aid highway funding programs are administered by State DOTs and MPOs, who allocate money based on State, regional, and local priorities. As such, a strong working relationship between State DOTs, MPOs, and localities is critical to ensure that adequate funding is allocated towards implementing OLT strategies in urban areas.

There are several notable Federal funding programs available that can provide States and MPOs funding that agencies can use to implement OLT strategies:

  • The Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program is one of the most flexible funding sources among all Federal-aid highway programs, promoting flexibility in State and local transportation decisions to best address State and local transportation needs, including freight and goods movement needs. Eligible projects include a wide range of surface transportation planning, design, and construction actions.
  • National Highway Freight Program (NHFP) funds can be used for a variety of traditional infrastructure and OLT strategies, including intelligent transportation systems (ITS), real-time traffic, truck parking, roadway condition, and multimodal transportation information systems, electronic screening and credentialing systems for vehicles, and diesel retrofit or alternative fuel projects for Class 8 vehicles (e.g., tractor-trailers). The NHFP has multimodal eligibility.
  • Competitive grant programs represent another potential funding source for implementing OLT projects. These include competitive Federal grant programs such as the NSFHP program (currently being administered as INFRA grants) and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. These types of programs can provide financial assistance to both large- and small-scale freight and highway projects. Florida DOT received an $11 million grant to deploy a truck parking availability system to provide information to truck drivers on the availability of parking spaces at facilities along Florida's primary interstate corridors.
  • The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program provides funding for transportation projects and programs that reduce congestion and improve air quality for areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon monoxide, or particulate matter, known as nonattainment areas, and for former nonattainment areas that are now in compliance, known as maintenance areas. Although project eligibilities remain largely the same as before the FAST Act was enacted, the new law places increased emphasis on diesel engine retrofits, port-related landside equipment, and alternative fuel infrastructure.
  • The National Clean Diesel Campaign of U.S. EPA offers grants, rebates, and other types of support for projects that protect human health and improve air quality by reducing emissions from diesel engines. Grant funds may be used for clean diesel projects that support OLT strategies, including EPA-verified technologies or certified engine configurations, idle-reduction technologies, and early engine or equipment replacements. Eligible diesel vehicles, engines, and equipment include heavy-duty highway vehicles, locomotive engines, marine engines, and non-road engines, equipment, or vehicles used in handling of cargo, including at ports or airports.
  • The Clean Cities Program of the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded nearly $400 million to States, MPOs, and local governments for hundreds of projects that reduce petroleum use in transportation. These project awards contribute to the program's primary goal of reducing petroleum use in the U.S. by 2.5 billion gallons per year by 2020. Funded projects have included the installation of idle-reduction equipment on tractor-trailers, the introduction of all-electric and hybrid-electric vehicles into public and private fleets, the conversion of conventional vehicles to run on natural gas and propane, and the installation of refueling infrastructure for alternative fuels.

Table 4. Federal Funding Sources for Freight Projects

Funding Source Eligible Freight Uses
Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) Program Broad range of surface transportation capital needs, including several freightrelated uses such as truck parking facilities, border infrastructure, and infrastructure modifications to facilitate direct intermodal interchange, transfer, and access into and out of a port terminal.
National Highway Freight Program (NHFP) Eligible activities include construction, operational improvements, freight planning, and performance measurement. NHFP funds must contribute to the efficient movement of freight on the National Highway Freight Network and be identified in a freight investment plan included in a State's freight plan. Up to 10 percent of a State's NHFP funds may be used for public or private freight rail, water facilities (including ports), and intermodal facilities.
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Transportation projects and programs that reduce congestion and improve air quality or areas that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon monoxide, or particulate matter (nonattainment areas) and for former nonattainment areas that are now in compliance (maintenance areas). Freight-related project types include diesel retrofits, idle-reduction equipment, and conversions of fleets to alternative fuels.
U.S. DOT Competitive Grant Eligibility varies by program, but freight-focused projects typically compete for funding with non-freight projects. Multimodal freight projects may be prioritized. Examples include: Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) and Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER).
U.S. EPA National Clean Diesel Campaign Grants, rebates, and other types of support for projects that reduce emissions from older diesel engines, including those in freight vehicles, vessels, and locomotives.
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