(a) Definitions.—In this section:
(2) Rural area.—
The term “rural area” means an area that is outside an urbanized area with a population of over 200,000.
(1) In general.—
The Secretary shall establish a rural surface transportation grant program to provide grants, on a competitive basis, to eligible entities to improve and expand the surface transportation infrastructure in rural areas.
(2) Goals.—The goals of the program shall be—
(3) Grant administration.—The Secretary may—
transfer portions of the funds retained under subparagraph (A) to the relevant Administrators to fund the award and oversight of grants provided under the program.
(c) Eligible Entities.—The Secretary may make a grant under the program to—
(e) Eligible Projects.—
(1) In general.—Except as provided in paragraph (2), the Secretary may make a grant under the program only for a project that is—
a project eligible under section 202(a);
a highway safety improvement project, including a project to improve a high risk rural road (as those terms are defined in section 148(a));
a project on a publicly-owned highway or bridge that provides or increases access to an agricultural, commercial, energy, or intermodal facility that supports the economy of a rural area; or
a project to develop, establish, or maintain an integrated mobility management system, a transportation demand management system, or on-demand mobility services.
(2) Bundling of eligible projects.—
(A) In general.—An eligible entity may bundle 2 or more similar eligible projects under the program that are—
awarded to a single contractor or consultant pursuant to a contract for engineering and design or construction between the contractor and the eligible entity.
(f) Eligible Project Costs.—An eligible entity may use funds from a grant under the program for—
development phase activities, including planning, feasibility analysis, revenue forecasting, environmental review, preliminary engineering and design work, and other preconstruction activities; and
construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, acquisition of real property (including land related to the project and improvements to the land), environmental mitigation, construction contingencies, acquisition of equipment, and operational improvements.
(g) Project Requirements.—The Secretary may provide a grant under the program to an eligible project only if the Secretary determines that the project—
is reasonably expected to begin construction not later than 18 months after the date of obligation of funds for the project.
(h) Additional Considerations.—In providing grants under the program, the Secretary shall consider the extent to which an eligible project will—
increase the capacity or connectivity of the surface transportation system and improve mobility for residents of rural areas;
address economic development and job creation challenges, including energy sector job losses in energy communities as identified in the report released in April 2021 by the interagency working group established by section 218 of Executive Order 14008 (86 Fed. Reg. 7628 (February 1, 2021));
enhance recreational and tourism opportunities by providing access to Federal land, national parks, national forests, national recreation areas, national wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, or State parks;
utilize innovative project delivery approaches or incorporate transportation technologies;
coordinate with projects to address broadband infrastructure needs; or
(i) Grant Amount.—
Except as provided in subsection (k)(1), a grant under the program shall be in an amount that is not less than $25,000,000.
(j) Federal Share.—
(1) In general.—
(2) Federal share for certain projects.—
The Federal share of the cost of an eligible project that furthers the completion of a designated segment of the Appalachian Development Highway System under section 14501 of title 40, or addresses a surface transportation infrastructure need identified for the Denali access system program under section 309 of the Denali Commission Act of 1998 (42 U.S.C. 3121 note; Public Law 105–277) shall be up to 100 percent, as determined by the State.
(k) Set Asides.—
(1) Small projects.—
(2) Appalachian development highway system.—
The Secretary shall reserve 25 percent of the amounts made available for the program for each fiscal year for eligible projects that further the completion of designated routes of the Appalachian Development Highway System under section 14501 of title 40.
(3) Rural roadway lane departures.—
The Secretary shall reserve 15 percent of the amounts made available for the program for each fiscal year to provide grants for eligible projects located in States that have rural roadway fatalities as a result of lane departures that are greater than the average of rural roadway fatalities as a result of lane departures in the United States, based on the latest available data from the Secretary.
(l) Congressional Review.—
(1) Notification.—Not less than 60 days before providing a grant under the program, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives—
a list of all applications determined to be eligible for a grant by the Secretary;
each application proposed to be selected for a grant, including a justification for the selection; and
(2) Committee review.—
(1) In general.—
(1) Annual report.—
(2) Comptroller general.—
(B) Report.—Each fiscal year, the Comptroller General shall submit to the Committee on Environment and Public Works of the Senate and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives a report that describes, for the fiscal year—
the adequacy and fairness of the process by which each project was selected, if applicable; and
the justification and criteria used for the selection of each project, if applicable.
(o) Treatment of Projects.—
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a project assisted under this section shall be treated as a project on a Federal-aid highway under this chapter.
(Added Pub. L. 117–58, div. A, title I, § 11132(a), Nov. 15, 2021, 135 Stat. 510.)