Workforce Transportation Pilot

The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan provided $5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the Maine Department of Transportation to support local, regional, and state workforce transportation pilot projects, especially in rural areas. Administered by MaineDOT’s Bureau of Planning, the department’s Workforce Transportation Pilot program was a competitive grant program that provided funds to support other workforce transportation pilot projects around the state. Funds were allowed to be used for capital and operating costs, including program start-up costs.

The Bureau of Planning anticipated a $750,000 award cap; however, that award cap was subject to change based on need and volume of applications. MaineDOT reserved the right to negotiate project scope and deliverables prior to finalizing awards. There was no minimum or maximum number of awards. Projects were selected based on merit and the availability of funding.

While there was no application deadline, applicants were encouraged to submit projects as soon as possible. The Bureau of Planning accepted, evaluated, and made decisions on grant applications on an ongoing, rolling basis until all funds were disbursed. In its evaluation process and awarding of funds, MaineDOT considered that some applicants would be able to apply for funds sooner than others. In general, awarded projects should begin within four months of contract execution. This requirement was allowed to be waived based on circumstances as described by the applicant.

While projects could support transportation of workers from rural areas to more urban areas or centers of employment, the focus was on workforce transportation in rural areas. As such, some funds were targeted specifically to connecting workers in rural areas to employment opportunities in rural areas.

Federal guidance provided that funds were to be used to respond to COVID-19’s negative economic impacts on the tourism, travel, and hospitality industries. Other identified industries suffering comparable economic impacts included healthcare and social assistance; construction, trade, and logistics; manufacturing; education; agriculture, fishing, and forestry; information; and clean energy.

Applicants were required to demonstrate that they were addressing challenges in these industries. Proposed initiatives were required to focus on workers and potential workers in these key industry sectors. Applications could be submitted by employers or groups of employers, municipalities, non-profit organizations, human service organizations, and public/private transportation providers. Applicants were encouraged to engage with potential partners including, but not limited to, regional planning organizations, chambers of commerce and other business groups, county governments, workforce boards, and community action programs.