Federal Discretionary Grant opportunities

The U.S. Department of Transportation and other agencies award federal discretionary grants to eligible applicants through a highly-competitive nationwide process based on qualifications and merit. Applications are submitted via grants.gov to the federal agency offering the grant. Applications undergo a rigorous peer review by a panel of subject matter experts. After multiple layers of review, a final funding decision is made based on the quality of the application and how well the proposed project will fulfill the program’s mission.

WisDOT's Summary Guide to Federal Discretionary Grants

WisDOT compiled the following resource that summarizes federal discretionary grant opportunities. It is organized alphabetically by the federal agency that will be administering the grant opportunity, and includes deadlines (including those that will reopen), program description and eligibility requirements.

Summary Guide

Current Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) Solicitations

WisDOT is monitoring these opportunities (as of November 28​​, 2023*) or view U.S. DOT's current list:

Program, agency and link Amount available Applications due
Advanced Transportation Technology & Innovation (ATTAIN) Program – FHWA FY23-24
​Feb. 2, 2024
​Innovative Coordinated Access & Mobility (ICAM) Pilot Program​ – FTA
​Feb. 13, 2024
​Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund (TTPSF) – FHWA

​Jan. 15, 2024
​Accelerating Advanced Digital Construction Management Systems (ADCMS) Program – FTA
$5,100,000Feb. 10, 2024
Rail Vehicle Replacement Grant – FTA$197,000,000Dec. 18, 2023
Bridge Investment Program (BIP) - Large Bridge - FHWA
(Bridge and Planning NOFO to be released separately)
Deadline extended to Dec. 4, 2023​
Fueling Aviation’s Sustainable Transition through Sustainable Aviation Fuels (FAST-SAF) & Technology (FAST-Tech) Programs – FAA
Deadline extended to Dec. ​4, 2023
​* These are listed in order of release. Information here will be updated as more program details are released by the U.S. DOT.

Steps in the grant application process

Review the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) above. Watch for:

  • Eligible projects and recipients
  • Grant award, including minimum and maximum amounts
  • Special set-asides or allocations (e.g., for planning studies, projects in rural areas, etc.)
  • Required local match
  • Scoring criteria and emphasis areas
  • The statutory deadline for obligating funds
  • Grant application deadline
  • When grant awards will be announced

Select a project or projects based on eligibility criteria and requirements as outlined in the NOFO.

Begin an application based on the program requirements. Solicit technical assistance from U.S. DOT in developing an application as needed.

Create an account then upload application materials at Grants.gov. Do this early to become familiar with the site and organize your application materials.

Submit all materials as required by the grant and note the deadlines. Tips:

  • Respond to each scoring criterion or note when it is not applicable to your project
  • Support statements with data or documentation whenever possible
  • Conduct a Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) by following U.S. DOT guidance
  • Note local matches to show a strong local commitment to the project

Complete this action form via UW TOPS Lab/WisDOT.

Wait and debrief. U.S. DOT reviews all applications and provides decision notification of projects selected for funding. Tips for projects not selected:

  • Carefully review any feedback provided
  • Sign up for a debrief meeting with U.S. DOT
  • Consider re-submitting the project during the next cycle but address any deficiencies in the previous application.

Examples and information on how to write grants:

WisDOT offers these key items to consider when applying for a Federal Discretionary Grant.

Start early. Review and use U.S. DOT’s FY2023 Discretionary Grant Preparation Checklist for Prospective Applicants. Use this to determine when to apply and for resources to prepare a successful application.

  • If you are applying for a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) discretionary grant that is not through U.S. DOT, review all requirements for that agency’s unique grant process. This will ensure that your specific project can meet all requirements and be able to use the federal grant funding (if awarded and made available).

Plan ahead. A good rule of thumb is to apply for a grant when a project is 1-2 years prior to project construction. If you are planning to apply for a grant to be used on a transportation infrastructure project, coordinate with a WisDOT region representative.

Use WisDOT’s At-A-Glance calendar (below) to see the discretionary grant schedule, including last year’s and current releases, as a planning resource for when to apply.

Anticipate. Grant agreement can take 6-12 months to be executed after grant award announcements have been made.

  • Grant award funds aren’t available to spend until the grant agreement has been executed.
  • Grant funding can’t be used to cover costs prior to the date of agreement execution.
  • Federal funds have additional rules and requirements (watch for specifics on reporting, tracking and monitoring financial systems and grant activities) that differ from local and state requirements. See Federal 2 CFR 200 Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements that govern all U.S. DOT awards.

Be prepared for additional requirements. U.S. DOT grants are generally made on a reimbursement basis. Typically, the grantee incurs the costs and seeks reimbursement from U.S. DOT.

  • U.S. DOT funds in general can’t be used as the non-Federal match for other programs.
  • Ensure your project is included in the STIP/TIP.

Discretionary Grant At-A-Glance Calendar

(view document)


Federal resources:

  • U.S. DOT Navigator is a vital tool to help communities understand ways to apply, plan and deliver projects.
  • U.S. DOT’s Justice40 (J40) initiative addresses decades of underinvestment in disadvantaged communities. The Equitable Transportation Community (ETC) Explorer is a dynamic tool to explore the cumulative burden communities experience as a result of underinvestment in transportation. It can help communities identify projects to reverse and create lasting benefits.
    • Webinar: For a detailed explanation on how to use the DOT Justice40 ETC Explorer Tool, see the June 2023 webinar and use passcode: n@9R0@#t.
  • U.S. DOT Project Delivery Center of Excellence offers tools and resources to help communities accelerate the completion of local transportation infrastructure investments, and complete them on time, on task and on budget.
  • U.S. DOT’s Rural Opportunities to Use Transportation Economic Success (ROUTES) Toolkit provides resources for applying for a discretionary grant.
  • The U.S. DOT Discretionary Grants Dashboard has an overview of discretionary grant opportunities and a dashboard that identifies grant programs (within and beyond DOT) with rural and Tribal set-asides or match waivers available.
  • Build America Center BIL Launchpad tool provides customized funding information, plan ahead calendar, match your project to successful awards.

FHWA resources:

FRA resources:

Wisconsin resources:

Request Letter of Support

To request a Letter of Support from WisDOT to supplement only a U.S. DOT Federal Grant application, complete this form. This is not eligible for WisDOT Local Programs applications. A draft copy of the application narrative and template of the letter of support (see example) are required. Requests should be submitted no later than 14 days prior to application submission.

Request Letter of Support

​For more information, contact:​

Jessica L. Wagner
WisDOT Federal Program Officer
(608) 267-6979, jessical.wagner@dot.wi.gov​