Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) NOFO Release

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The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released the Fiscal Year 2023 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods (RCN) Program, with up to $3.16 billion available for planning and construction projects.


This RCN NOFO is a combination of two major discretionary grant opportunities: The Reconnecting Communities Pilot (RCP) and Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) Programs.  


USDOT has combined these two programs into a single NOFO to provide a more efficient application process for project sponsors. While they remain separate programs for the purposes of award, the programs share many common characteristics, including: 


  • Prioritizing disadvantaged communities,
  • Aiming to improve access to daily destinations such as jobs, education, healthcare, food, and recreation, 
  • Fostering equitable development and restoration, and
  • Reconnecting communities by removing, retrofitting, mitigating, or replacing highways or other transportation facilities that create barriers to community connectivity, including to mobility, access, or economic development


Because of these shared characteristics, it is possible for many projects to be eligible and considered for both programs using a single application. The chart below illustrates the similarities and differences between the RCP and NAE opportunities. 


RCN Chart


The RCN NOFO is now soliciting grant applications for the Reconnecting Communities Pilot discretionary grant program, established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), and for the newly created Neighborhood Access and Equity discretionary grant program, established by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).  


Under the combined RCN Program, USDOT is offering three grant types: Community Planning Grants, Capital Construction Grants, and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants. 

  • Community Planning Grants will award RCP and/or NAE funding for planning activities for future construction projects and allow for innovative community planning to address localized transportation challenges. In FY 2023, DOT may award up to $50 million of RCP funds and $135 million of NAE funds for eligible public engagement, feasibility studies, and other planning activities.
  • Capital Construction Grants will award RCP and/or NAE funding to carry out a project to remove, retrofit, mitigate, or replace an existing eligible dividing transportation facility with a new facility that reconnects communities; mitigates a burdening transportation facility that is a source of air pollution, noise, stormwater, heat, or other burdens; or implements a strategy to reduce environmental harm and/or improve access through transportation improvements. In FY 2023, DOT may award up to $148 million of RCP funds and $2.57 billion of NAE funds for eligible construction activities. 
  • Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants will award NAE funding to a project led by two or more eligible applicants to address a persistent regional challenge related to equitable access and mobility. Eligible activities for Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants are the same as those listed under Capital Construction and Community Planning Grants but must have a regional focus, and clearly demonstrate regional coordination and leveraging of local, State, and Federal resources and policies.  In FY 2023, DOT may award up to $450 million of NAE funds to support regional collaboration and innovation on the eligible activities under Community Planning or Capital Construction Grants.

The NOFO can be found on Applications must be submitted through Valid Eval (links below). To apply, the three grant programs have been split into two application sites:  

  1. Community Planning Grants and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants with Planning Activities 
  2. Capital Construction Grants and Regional Partnerships Challenge Grants with Construction Activities  

USDOT will evaluate applications for the programs using common merit criteria and considerations to provide a more streamlined and efficient application process for project sponsors. The common set of criteria include:   

  • Equity and Environmental Justice   
  • Access   
  • Facility Suitability   
  • Community Engagement   
  • Community-based Stewardship, Management, and Partnership   
  • Equitable Development   
  • Climate and Environment   
  • Workforce Development and Economic Opportunity

Additional considerations include cost effectiveness, demonstrated project readiness (including technical assessment, financial completeness, and environmental review), permitting risk, and geographic diversity among recipients – including a balance between the needs of urban and rural applicants.

USDOT has created a joint RCN website with additional information and will be hosting several informational webinars for prospective grant applicants in the following weeks. Please visit Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program | US Department of Transportation to subscribe and receive updates, plus review additional information on upcoming webinars, how to apply, frequently asked questions, and the Department’s Benefit Cost Analysis Guidance for Discretionary Grant programs.