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Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. These FAQs are intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies. FTA recipients and subrecipients should refer to FTA’s statutes and regulations for applicable requirements.

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Yes, this is allowable, provided that the contract was compliant with all Federal requirements, including competitive procurement, and funds can be properly tracked and allocated to the relevant award.

Answer:

No. The only Federal funds that can be used in place of local share for the FTA Emergency Relief Program are funds, which by statute lose their federal identity and can be used as match for other Federal programs, such as Community Development Block Grant funds.

Answer:

Yes. Many disaster recovery projects will involve changes and improvements to damaged assets that will increase resilience to future disasters. In cases where the improvements are functionally integrated with the recovery project, these improvements may be conducted with recovery funding. This includes improvements to comply with building codes, FEMA flood elevations, relocating equipment within a structure, and similar improvements. Resilience improvements that are associated with, but not integrated into a recovery project must be completed with dedicated resilience funding. This includes additions to existing structures such as flood barriers, backup power units, new drainage systems, and similar projects. When a project involves both functionally integrated resilience improvements and new resilience elements, FTA recommends submitting activities that will use both recovery and resilience funding as separate projects within the grant to ensure the requirements associated with each funding type are applied and tracked properly.

Answer:

No. Local priority resilience funds cannot be used to design projects that will be submitted as part of the competitive process.However, the grantee has the following options for paying for these costs:
FTA will extend pre-award authority for environmental work (to comply with NEPA) and design costs for these activities, permitting them to be eligible for reimbursement OR count towards your local match if the competitive resiliency project is selected.
A grantee can use their FTA formula funds such as the Section 5307 funds to pay for these costs.

Answer:

No. Resilience projects must be designed to reduce damages and losses from extreme weather events and other disasters, not to protect assets from exposure to typical weather patterns and other environmental factors. If a project protects against a disaster, but also provides benefits in typical conditions, the application may present these and other ongoing benefits as reduced operations and maintenance costs over the project’s lifespan.

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Yes. FTA ER funding can be awarded in advance of an expected insurance settlement. If/when an insurance settlement is received, the grant must be amended. Please see sections 4.3.2 “Treatment of Insurance Proceeds” and 4.3.3 “Policy on Unallocated Insurance Proceeds” in FTA’s Emergency Relief Manual for details and examples.

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Project administration costs are considered to be those necessary and reasonable administrative costs associated with the implementation of specific FTA approved capital project activities. Such costs may be direct or indirect. Direct costs must be supported with documentation to show the nature and amount of cost including time and attendance records for actual staff time charged to the activity. Indirect costs must be supported with a federally approved indirect cost allocation plan. Project administration costs should be budgeted separately or included in related capital activity line item budgets. Project administration costs are funded as capital costs. While project administration is an eligible capital cost, general program administration is not.Project team resources may be funded up to a reasonable amount, which generally does not exceed 10 percent of the total capital costs of the project.

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Yes. Recovery funds can be used to repair a facility with materials or features that are more resilient than the original facility if those materials or features are integral to the repair of the facility (not functionally independent) and cost effective. For example, elevating communications cables when replacing cables destroyed during a storm or using a stronger roofing material to replace a roof blown off by the storms may be eligible as recovery expenses. Features that are functionally independent, such as a sea wall around a facility, are not eligible under the recovery and rebuilding allocations and would need to be funded through the resilience allocation.

Answer:

Yes. Funding was made available for “transit systems affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria with major disaster declarations in 2017.”  As such, any transit agency within the Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria declared disaster areas may receive resilience funding regardless of whether it received recovery funding as long as the State or Territory responsible for sub-allocating the resilience funding selects such a project for funding and that the transit agency can affirm it was affected by the storms.

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The HMCE tool is designed to accurately interpolate between two or more events with increasing total damages and increasing recurrence intervals (RIs). So for a scenario where a 100-year event causes more damage than a 200-year event; the HMCE tool would not accurately interpolate between the events and would underestimate the actual project benefits. Therefore, to produce accurate results in the HMCE tool, we recommend the following:
If there are only the two known RI events, then input only the 100-year event as a known RI event and omit the 200-year RI event to avoid an undercounting of project benefits and explain your reasoning in the documentation.
If there are three more events including the two known RI events, then input all the events as unknown RI events and let the tool estimate the RIs and group the results.

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Yes. At the applicant’s discretion, FEMA’s Schedule of Equipment Rates may be used to calculate the cost of the use FTA ER funding applicant owned equipment in good mechanical condition, complete with all required attachments.

Answer:

Yes, it can be assumed that certain assets would experience increased utilization during a 100-year storm event; however, data documentation must be provided to support this assumption indicating 1) the historical precedence for the assumption, 2) the estimated level of increased utilization, and 3) the basis for the estimated increase. In general, assumptions based on predicted behavior will require much more stringent documentation than for historic events.

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Yes, a project that prevents disruptions in the case of a disaster, even if an asset is not damaged, could be eligible. For example, a hurricane might submerge the entrance to a bus depot, thereby affecting service but not damaging the facility.
Regarding nuisance events, please be aware that funding in this program is designed to minimize impacts or prevent damage from infrequent extreme weather events and other disasters, which generally means those with a recurrence interval of 10 years or more. A project that protects assets against exposure to typical weather, but has no benefit in a disaster scenario, is not eligible for resilience funding. However, if a project protects against a disaster, but also provides benefits in typical conditions, the application may present these and other ongoing benefits as reduced operations and maintenance costs over the project’s lifespan.

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No. The transit provider may receive ER funds for emergency protective measures (such as additional security personnel), temporary repairs, and permanent repairs that address the security vulnerability. Reimbursement for property intentionally damaged or stolen is not an eligible expense under the ER program.

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Emergency Relief Operating and Capital Projects that have been validated by FTA for Categories 1-3 do not need to be placed in the TIP/STIP. See February 6, 2012 FRN.Other Emergency Relief projects, including those funded through a pro-rated or future allocation, are subject to the joint FHWA-FTA planning rule (23 CFR 450.324). The joint planning rule requires that capital and non-capital surface transportation projects (or phases of projects) within the boundaries of the metropolitan planning area proposed for funding under 23 U.S.C. and 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53 be included in the TIP (and STIP) prior to incurring costs, unless the project qualifies as one of the exceptions listed in the rule. 23 CFR 450.324 provides that emergency relief projects are not required to be included in the TIP (and STIP) except for those involving substantial functional, locational, or capacity changes.To qualify for this exception, the grantee must certify in writing that the emergency relief project does not involve substantial functional, locational or capacity changes and that the local share is available. The Grantee must submit this documentation to FTA in order for the project to be eligible for federal participation. Absent such certification, FTA expects Emergency Relief projects to be included in the TIP/STIP prior to incurring costs. Grantees may petition FTA for a waiver from this requirement by using the FTA docket process outlined in this Q&A document. FTA encourages grantees to work closely with their MPO in determining whether to include emergency relief projects in the TIP, and ultimately in the STIP.Guidance for addressing Resiliency Projects will be forthcoming.

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Yes. Unless a resilience funding recipient is granted a waiver, all standard planning and grant requirements apply to projects funded through the resilience allocations.

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Yes, FTA considers accrued costs to have been incurred, and hence are eligible under Category 1. It is our intent that both incurred costs, and incurred and disbursed costs are included in Category 1.

Answer:

No. Category 3 is for work performed by a grantee’s in-house labor force. Work by a grantee's contractor under an existing contract would be Category 2, unless it has been paid to the contractor, in which case it would be Category 1.

Answer:

FTA has determined, in consultation with Council on Environmental Quality, that the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) do not apply for Category 1, 2 or 3 projects as these are activities that were already complete, in process, or committed to as of January 29th. However, FTA has determined that other related environmental statutes, such as Section 106, do not apply to Category 1 expenses, but may apply to Category 2 and 3 expenses. For any questions relating to NEPA, please contact the FTA Regional Office.For any other Sandy-related expenses that will be funded with future allocations (e.g. pro-rated allocation) outside of Categories One, Two, and Three, normal NEPA requirements (and related statutes) apply. It is probable that many recovery projects funded from a prorated or future allocation will fall under FTA’s Emergency Categorical Exclusion (Emergency CE) or another of FTA’s newly revised CEs. Resiliency projects might not fall under one of FTA’s CEs and may require further environmental documentation to be in compliance.

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