Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Federal PROTECT Formula Program

PROTECT Formula Program in Minnesota

In 2021 the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law created the Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Formula Program (PDF). Out of the $7.3 billion PROTECT Formula Program, Minnesota receives $115 million. Minnesota will receive close to $23 million each year through federal fiscal year 2026

Projects need to fulfill the PROTECT program’s resilience improvement purpose, be in an eligible place, and be an eligible kind of project.

Resilience improvement purposes

Projects eligible for PROTECT Formula funding will respond to a weather-driven, climate vulnerability. Use internal experience or scientific data to show that a project is in a climate vulnerable place. The federal code defines PROTECT's purpose in this way:

“The purpose of the program is … to protect surface transportation assets by making the assets more resilient to current and future weather events and natural disasters, such as severe storms, flooding, drought, levee and dam failures, wildfire, rockslides, mudslides, sea level rise, extreme weather, including extreme temperature, and earthquakes.” 23 USC 176(b)(2)(C)(ii)

Eligible places to invest PROTECT funds

  • Highway projects
  • Public transportation facilities or services
  • Port facilities (including facilities that connect ports with other modes of transportation, improve the efficiency of evacuations and disaster relief, or aid transportation)

Eligible projects

The PROTECT formula program guidance (PDF) offers a list of eligible resilience improvements 23 U.S.C. 176(c)(1). The following is not an exhaustive list of eligible resilience improvements. Choosing the best resilience improvement is a context dependent, project-specific decision. This list will determine project eligibility until a Resilience Improvement Plan is complete:

  • Resurfacing, restoration, rehabilitation, reconstruction, replacement, improvement, or realignment of an existing eligible surface transportation facility eligible
  • Incorporation of natural infrastructure
  • The upgrade of an existing surface transportation facility to meet or exceed design standards
  • Installation of mitigation measures that prevent the intrusion of floodwaters into surface transportation systems.
  • Strengthening systems that remove rainwater from surface transportation facilities.
  • Upgrades to and installation of structural stormwater controls
  • A resilience project that addresses identified vulnerabilities described in the eligible entity’s Resilience Improvement Plan
  • Relocating roadways in a base floodplain to higher ground above projected flood elevation levels, or away from slide prone areas
  • Stabilizing slide areas or slopes
  • Installing riprap
  • Lengthening or raising bridges to increase waterway openings, including to respond to extreme weather
  • Increasing the size or number of drainage structures.
  • Installing seismic retrofits on bridges
  • Adding scour protection at bridges
  • Adding scour, stream stability, coastal, and other hydraulic countermeasures, including spur dikes
  • Vegetation management practices in transportation rights-of-way to improve roadway safety, prevent against invasive species, facilitate wildfire control, and provide erosion control.
  • Any other protective features, including natural infrastructure, as determined by the Secretary.

Guiding questions and resources to prioritize and select projects

Is your project in a vulnerable area?

  • Is the project in an area vulnerable to severe storms, flooding, drought, levee and dam failures, wildfire, rockslides, mudslides, and extreme temperatures and precipitation?
  • Does maintenance often happen in an area because water issues create ongoing problems?

Is the project making a resilience improvement to a vulnerable asset that wouldn’t otherwise be fixed in the next three years?

  • If your asset condition is kept in a database:
    • Consider highway culvert conditions, bridge culvert conditions, and scour critical bridges. Once MnDOT’s Resilience Improvement Plan is complete, future considerations should include a Vulnerability Score
  • Do you have visual assessments, maybe photographs, that point to ongoing problems in a vulnerable area?
  • Explore MnDOT’s Slope Vulnerability Assessments:
    • Phase 1: 1 highway each in Districts 6, 7, and Metro District
    • Phase 2: 32 counties in Districts 4, 6, 7, 8, and Metro District
    • Phase 3: 27 counties in Districts 1, 2, 3, and 4
    • Phase 4: 16 counties in Districts 1, 3, and Metro District

Is the project in a flood plain?

Will the project benefit disadvantaged communities by reversing inequities or mitigating the causes of inequities?

This project selection guidance is for FY2024 and FY2025. It does not reflect the guidance that will be used in future years.

Future years of the PROTECT Formula Program

In 2023, MnDOT will work with a consultant to develop a Resilience Improvement Plan. The Plan will document program priorities and program processes to invest PROTECT funds. It’s planned to be finish by early 2024.