WASHINGTON — The Biden administration opened applications Tuesday for a $2.5 billion funding program to expand access to electric vehicle charging and alternative fueling infrastructure in urban and rural communities across the U.S.

The discretionary grant program was created by the bipartisan infrastructure law signed in 2021 and provides the multibillion-dollar funding over five years to eligible applicants including states, cities, local agencies and tribes.

The first round of funding makes up to $700 million available from fiscal years 2022-23 to strategically deploy publicly accessible EV chargers and hydrogen, propane or natural gas fueling infrastructure along designated highways, interstates and major roadways as well as in downtown areas and neighborhoods, particularly in underserved and disadvantaged communities.

The grant funding is divided into two categories:

— A $1.25 billion community program for EV charging and alternative fueling infrastructure built on any public road or other publicly accessible locations such as schools or parks.

— A $1.25 billion corridor program for projects along designated alternative fuel corridors.

Applications are due May 30.

The Federal Highway Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said it “seeks to fund projects that address environmental justice, particularly for communities such as rural and low- and moderate-income neighborhoods that may disproportionately experience the consequences of climate change and other pollutants.”

As part of President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative — a governmentwide effort to ensure federal investments reach disadvantaged communities — the administration also will ensure at least 40 percent of the grant program’s benefits flow to those populations, particularly rural and tribal, a senior administration official told reporters in a press briefing Monday.

The administration said the funding opportunity is a “key step” toward achieving Biden‘s goal of building a national network of 500,000 public EV charging stations.

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