What is a “Shovel Ready” Project?

Posted by Tori Morgan on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Construction Worker and Shovel graphic

These days, most everyone is (or should be) looking at funding opportunities for their water and wastewater projects. Funding can be provided as a grant or loan depending on the project and/or agency. More often than not, when going through the funding application process you will hear the term “shovel ready.” So, what is “shovel ready” and what is its importance relative to funding opportunities?

According to Wikipedia, a “shovel ready” construction project (usually larger-scale infrastructure) is where planning and engineering is advanced enough that—with sufficient funding—construction can begin within a very short time. To elaborate on this, we spoke with representatives from PENNVEST and USDA who are popular funding agencies to get their perspective.

Funding Agencies Weigh-in

From the PENNVEST perspective, “shovel ready” means plans and specifications are ready for bid, you have all the environmental permits in hand, and have obtained all the necessary land use approvals from the County, local municipality, and or the County Agriculture Preservation Board as applicable.

From the USDA perspective, funding is typically provided in the form of a low-interest loan and does not require a “shovel ready” project. However, it is possible that USDA may become involved with aspects of the recent stimulus package. Funding opportunities created by the stimulus package may require “shovel ready” projects. Criteria for “shovel ready” is still being discussed.

In summary, funding agency levels and commitments are often quite fluid, changing frequently before, after, and during award cycles. Having your project “shovel ready,” not only demonstrates your commitment and buy-in to the project to agencies, it will also give you the best chances that your project will be selected to receive funding.

Tori Morgan, LO Photo

Tori Morgan, LO

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Categories: Municipal Infrastructure

Tagged: Potable Water  |  Wastewater  |  Municipal Engineering  |  Budgeting & Funding

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